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    An improved method for IEDF determination in pulsed plasmas and its application to the pulsed dc magnetron

    Voronin, S. A., Clarke, Gregory, Čada, M., Kelly, Peter and Bradley, J. W. (2007) An improved method for IEDF determination in pulsed plasmas and its application to the pulsed dc magnetron. Measurement science and technology, 18 (7). pp. 1872-1876. ISSN 1361-6501

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    In this paper we demonstrate an improved technique for obtaining time-resolved ion energy distribution functions (IEDFs) in pulsed plasma discharges using a commercial quadrupole mass energy analyser. The method involves extracting ions from the plasma at selected times during the pulse cycle through the application of a synchronized electrical bias on a grid assembly built in the barrel of the instrument. Placing the triggered mesh in the barrel of the energy analyser makes the 'transit' gap length (between the chopping mesh and neighbour electrodes) ~2 mm and that results in a significant increase of the time resolution. Due to the high vacuum conditions inside the barrel, no unwanted 'parasitic' discharge will exist between the extractor and orifice. The electrostatic chopping by the built-in mesh allows time-resolved IEDFs to be determined without reference to the inherent time delay caused by the ion flight time through the spectrometer. The technique has been applied to the low-pressure pulsed dc magnetron discharge operating in Ar gas and at a pulse frequency of 100 kHz. Time-resolved IEDFs were obtained with a 1 µs time resolution, and these revealed large variations in the form and width of the ion energy spectra at different times during the discharge cycle, governed by the temporal evolution of the plasma potential. A calculation based on ion dynamics in the grid assembly agrees well with experimentally obtained results and demonstrates that this method can provide time resolutions as small as 200 ns.

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