Excitation and ionization conditions in traveling ionization zones of high power impulse magnetron sputtering plasmas were investigated using fast camera imaging through interference filters. The images, taken in end-on and side-on views using light of selected gas and target atom and ion spectral lines, suggest that ionization zones are regions of enhanced densities of electrons, and excited atoms and ions. Excited atoms and ions of the target material (Al) are strongly concentrated near the target surface. Images from the highest excitation energies exhibit the most localized regions, suggesting localized Ohmic heating consistent with double layer formation.

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