The interaction between pulsed plasmas and surfaces undergoing chemical changes complicates physics of reactive High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPIMS). In this study, we determine the dynamics of formation and removal of a compound on a titanium surface from the evolution of discharge characteristics in an argon atmosphere with nitrogen and oxygen. We show that the time response of a reactive process is dominated by surface processes. The thickness of the compound layer is several nm and its removal by sputtering requires ion fluence in the order of 1016 cm−2, much larger than the ion fluence in a single HiPIMS pulse. Formation of the nitride or oxide layer is significantly slower in HiPIMS than in dc sputtering under identical conditions. Further, we explain very high discharge currents in HiPIMS by the formation of a truly stoichiometric compound during the discharge off-time. The compound has a very high secondary electron emission coefficient and leads to a large increase in the discharge current upon target poisoning.
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Research Article| March 03 2017
Evolution of sputtering target surface composition in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering
T. Kubart ;
T. Kubart, A. Aijaz; Evolution of sputtering target surface composition in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering. J. Appl. Phys. 7 May 2017; 121 (17): 171903. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4977814
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