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On the road to self-sputtering in high power impulse magnetron sputtering: particle balance and discharge characteristics
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics. Plasma and Coatings Physics Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8591-1003
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
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2014 (English)In: Plasma sources science & technology (Print), ISSN 0963-0252, E-ISSN 1361-6595, Vol. 23, no 2, 025017- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The onset and development of self-sputtering (SS) in a high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge have been studied using a plasma chemical model and a set of experimental data, taken with an aluminum target and argon gas. The model is tailored to duplicate the discharge in which the data are taken. The pulses are long enough to include both an initial transient and a following steady state. The model is used to unravel how the internal discharge physics evolves with pulse power and time, and how it is related to features in the discharge current-voltage-time characteristics such as current densities, maxima, kinks and slopes. The connection between the self-sputter process and the discharge characteristics is quantified and discussed in terms of three parameters: a critical target current density J(crit) based on the maximum refill rate of process (argon) gas above the target, an SS recycling factor Pi(SS-recycle), and an approximation alpha a of the probabilities of ionization of species that come from the target (both sputtered metal and embedded argon atoms). For low power pulses, discharge voltages UD <= 380V with peak current densities below approximate to 0.2A cm(-2), the discharge is found to be dominated by process gas sputtering. In these pulses there is an initial current peak in time, associated with partial gas rarefaction, which is followed by a steady-state-like plateau in all parameters similar to direct current magnetron sputtering. In contrast, high power pulses, with U-D >= 500V and peak current densities above J(D) approximate to 1.6Acm(-2), make a transition to a discharge mode where SS dominates. The transition is found not to be driven by process gas rarefaction which is only about 10% at this time. Maximum gas rarefaction is found later in time and always after the initial peak in the discharge current. With increasing voltage, and pulse power, the discharge can be described as following a route where the role of SS increases in four steps: process gas sputtering, gas-sustained SS, self-sustained SS and SS runaway. At the highest voltage, 1000V, the discharge is very close to, but does not go into, the SS runaway mode. This absence of runaway is proposed to be connected to an unexpected finding: that twice ionized ions of the target species play almost no role in this discharge, not even at the highest powers. This reduces ionization by secondary-emitted energetic electrons almost to zero in the highest power range of the discharge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 23, no 2, 025017- p.
Keyword [en]
magnetron sputtering, high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge, self-sputtering, plasma modeling
National Category
Other Physics Topics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-127457DOI: 10.1088/0963-0252/23/2/025017ISI: 000337890700020ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84898046406OAI: diva2:644366
Swedish Research Council, 130029-051

QC 20140805. Updated from submitted to published.

Available from: 2013-08-30 Created: 2013-08-30 Last updated: 2014-08-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Modeling and Experimental Studies of High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering Discharges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modeling and Experimental Studies of High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering Discharges
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

HiPIMS, high power impulse magnetron sputtering, is a promising technology that has attracted a lot of attention, ever since it was introduced in 1999. A time-dependent plasma discharge model has been developed for the ionization region (IRM) in HiPIMS discharges. As a flexible modeling tool, it can be used to explore the temporal variations of the ionized fractions of the working gas and the sputtered vapor, the electron density and temperature, the gas rarefaction and refill processes, the heating mechanisms, and the self-sputtering process etc.. The model development has proceeded in steps. A basic version IRM I is fitted to the experimental data from a HiPIMS discharge with 100 μs long pulses and an aluminum target (Paper I). A close fit to the experimental current waveform, and values of density, temperature, gas rarefaction, as well as the degree of ionization shows the general validity of the model. An improved version, IRM II is first used for an investigation of reasons for deposition rate loss in the same discharge (Paper II). This work contains a preliminary analysis of the potential distribution and its evolution as well as the possibility of a high deposition rate window to optimize the HiPIMS discharge. IRM II is then fitted to another HiPIMS discharge with 400 μs long pulses and an aluminum target and used to investigate gas rarefaction, degree of ionization, degree of self-sputtering, and the loss in deposition rate (Paper III). The most complete version, IRM III is also applied to these 400 μs long pulse discharges but in a larger power density range, from the pulsed dcMS range 0.026 kW/up to 3.6 kW/where gas rarefaction and self-sputtering are important processes. It is in Paper IV used to study the Ohmic heating mechanism in the bulk plasma, couple to the potential distribution in the ionization region, and compare the efficiencies of different mechanisms for electron heating and their resulting relative contributions to ionization. Then, in Paper V, the particle balance and discharge characteristics on the road to self-sputtering are studied. We find that a transition to a discharge mode where self-sputtering dominates always happens early, typically one third into the rising flank of an initial current peak. It is not driven by process gas rarefaction, instead gas rarefaction develops when the discharge already is in the self-sputtering regime. The degree of self-sputtering increases with power: at low powers mainly due to an increasing probability of ionization of the sputtered material, and at high powers mainly due to an increasing self-sputter yield in the sheath.

Besides this IRM modeling, the transport of charged particles has been investigated byiv measuring current distributions in HiPIMS discharges with 200 μs long pulses and a copper target (Paper VI). A description, based on three different types of current systems during the ignition, transition and steady state phase, is used to analyze the evolution of the current density distribution in the pulsed plasma. The internal current density ratio (Hall current density divided by discharge current density) is a key transport parameter. It is reported how it varies with space and time, governing the cross-B resistivity and the mobility of the charged particles. From the current ratio, the electron cross-B (Pedersen) conductivity can be obtained and used as essential input when modeling the axial electric field that was the subject of Papers II and IV, and which governs the back-attraction of ions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. xiii, 75 p.
Trita-EE, ISSN 1653-5146 ; 2013:029
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-126264 (URN)978-91-7501-819-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-09-18, Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20130830

Available from: 2013-08-30 Created: 2013-08-20 Last updated: 2013-11-07Bibliographically approved

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