Spokes, localised ionisation zones, are commonly observed in magnetron sputtering plasmas, appearing either with a triangular shape or with a diffuse shape, exhibiting self-organisation patterns. In this paper, we investigate the spoke properties (shape and emission) in a high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge when reactive gas (N2 or O2) is added to the Ar gas, for three target materials; Al, Cr, and Ti. Peak discharge current and total pressure were kept constant, and the discharge voltage and mass flow ratios of Ar and the reactive gas were adjusted. The variation of the discharge voltage is used as an indication of a change of the secondary electron yield. The optical emission spectroscopy data demonstrate that by addition of reactive gas, the HiPIMS plasma exhibits a transition from a metal dominated plasma to the plasma dominated by Ar ions and, at high reactive gas partial pressures, to the plasma dominated by reactive gas ions. For all investigated materials, the spoke shape changed to the diffuse spoke shape in the poisoned mode. The change from the metal to the reactive gas dominated plasma and increase in the secondary electron production observed as the decrease of the discharge voltage corroborate our model of the spoke, where the diffuse spoke appears when the plasma is dominated by species capable of generating secondary electrons from the target. Behaviour of the discharge voltage and maximum plasma emission is strongly dependant on the target/reactive gas combination and does not fully match the behaviour observed in DC magnetron sputtering.
Investigation of plasma spokes in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering discharge
A. Hecimovic, C. Corbella, C. Maszl, W. Breilmann, A. von Keudell; Investigation of plasma spokes in reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering discharge. J. Appl. Phys. 7 May 2017; 121 (17): 171915. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4978348
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