Plasma dynamics in an inductively coupled magnetic neutral loop discharge

Deborah O'Connell, Timo Gans, D.L. Crintea, U. Czarnetzki, N. Sadeghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic neutral loop discharges (NLDs) can be operated at significantly lower pressures than conventional radio-frequency (rf) inductively coupled plasmas (ICPs). These low pressure conditions are favourable for technological applications, in particular anisotropic etching. An ICP–NLD has been designed providing excellent diagnostics access for detailed investigations of fundamental mechanisms. Spatially resolved Langmuir probe measurements have been performed in the plasma production region (NL region) as well as in the remote application region downstream from the NL region. Depending on the NL gradient two different operation modes have been observed exhibiting different opportunities for control of plasma uniformity. The efficient operation at comparatively low pressures results in ionization degrees exceeding 1%. In this regime neutral dynamics has to be considered and can influence neutral gas and process uniformity. Neutral gas depletion through elevated gas temperatures and high ionization rates have been quantified. At pressures above 0.1 Pa, gas heating is the dominant depletion mechanism. At lower pressures neutral gas is predominantly depleted through high ionization rates and rapid transport of ions by ambipolar diffusion along the magnetic field lines. Non-uniform profiles of the ionization rate can, therefore, result in localized neutral gas depletion and non-uniform processing. We have also investigated the electron dynamics within the radio-frequency cycle using phase resolved optical emission spectroscopy and Thomson scattering. In these measurements electron drift phenomena along the NL torus have been identified.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024022
Pages (from-to)024022-024033
Number of pages12
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Volume17 (2)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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