Plasma properties in high power impulse magnetron sputtering

University dissertation from Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi

Abstract: The work presented in this thesis involves experimental and theoretical studies related to plasma properties in high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS), and more specifically plasma transport. HiPIMS is an ionized PVD method based on conventional direct current magnetron sputtering (dcMS). In dcMS very little of the sputtered material is ionized since the plasma power density is not high enough. This is not the case for HiPIMS, where a substantial part is ionized, and thus presents many new opportunities for thin film growth. Understanding the dynamics of the charged species in the HiPIMS discharge is therefore of essential value when producing high-quality thin film coatings.In the first part of the work a new type of anomalous electron transport was found. Investigations of the transport resulted in the discovery that this phenomenon could quantitatively be described as being related and mediated by highly nonlinear waves, likely due to the modified two-stream instability (MTSI), resulting in electric field oscillations in the MHz-range (the so-called lower hybrid frequency). Measurements in the plasma confirmed these oscillations as well as trends predicted by the theory of these types of waves. The degree of anomalous transport in the plasma could also be determined by measuring the current density ratio between the azimuthal current density (of which the Hall current density is one contribution) and the discharge current density, J? / JD. The results provided important insights into understanding the mechanism behind the anomalous transport.It was furthermore found that the current ratio J? / JD is inversely proportional to the transverse resistivity, eta_perpendicular , which governs how well momentum is transferred from the electrons to the ions in the plasma. By looking at the forces involved in the charged particle transport it was expected that the azimuthally rotating electrons would exert a volume force on the ions tangentially outwards from the circular race track region. The effect of having an anomalous transport would therefore be a large fraction of highly energetic ions being transported sideways and lost to the walls. In a series of experiments, deposition rates as well as incoming ion energy distributions were measured directly at the side of the magnetron. It was found that a substantial fraction of sputtered material is transported radially away from the cathode and lost to the walls in HiPIMS as well as dcMS, but more so for HiPIMS giving one possible explanation to why the deposition rate for substrates placed in front of the target is lower for HiPIMS compared to dcMS. Furthermore, the recorded, incoming ion energy distributions confirmed theoretical estimations on this type of transport regarding energy and direction.