Fine-grain graphite samples were exposed to high density low temperature (ne1020m3,Te1eV) hydrogen plasmas in the Pilot-PSI linear plasma generator. Redeposition of eroded carbon is so strong that no external precursor gas injection is necessary for deposits to form on the exposed surface during the bombardment. In fact, up to 90% of carbon is redeposited, most noticeably in the region of the highest particle flux. The redeposits appear in the form of carbon microparticles of various sizes and structures. Discharge parameters influence the efficiency of the redeposition processes and the particle growth rate. Under favorable conditions, the growth rate reaches 0.15 μm/s. The authors used high resolution scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to study the particle growth mode. The columnar structure of some of the large particles points toward surface growth, while observation of the spherical carbon nanoparticles indicates growth in the plasma phase. Multiple nanoparticles can agglomerate and form bigger particles. The spherical shape of the agglomerates suggests that nanoparticles coalesce in the gas phase. The erosion and redeposition patterns on the samples are likely determined by the gradients in plasma flux density and surface temperature across the surface.

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