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Plasma potential mapping of high power impulse magnetron sputtering discharges
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Pulsed emissive probe techniques have been used to determine the plasma potential distribution of high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharges. An unbalanced magnetron with a niobium target in argon was investigated for a pulse length of 100 μs at a pulse repetition rate of 100 Hz, giving a peak current of 170 A. The probe data were recorded with a time resolution of 20 ns and a spatial resolution of 1 mm. It is shown that the local plasma potential varies greatly in space and time. The lowest potential was found over the target’s racetrack, gradually reaching anode potential (ground) several centimeters away from the target. The magnetic presheath exhibits a funnel-shaped plasma potential resulting in an electric field which accelerates ions toward the racetrack. In certain regions and times, the potential exhibits weak local maxima which allow for ion acceleration to the substrate. Knowledge of the local and static fields lets us derive the electrons’ drift velocity, which is about 105 m/s and shows structures in space and time.
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