Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Self-organization of plasma in magnetron sputtering discharges

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.09.05  Engineering sciences and technologies  Electronic components and technologies  Vacuum technologies 

Code Science Field
2.02  Engineering and Technology  Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Information engineering 
ANG magnetron sputtering, High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering, HiPIMS, DCMS, RFMS, plasma diagnostics
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (11)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  18271  PhD Miha Čekada  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  443 
2.  35463  PhD Aljaž Drnovšek  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  98 
3.  15601  Jožko Fišer    Technical associate  2020 - 2024  12 
4.  28480  PhD Ita Junkar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2020 - 2024  288 
5.  15703  PhD Janez Kovač  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2024  680 
6.  10429  PhD Miran Mozetič  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2024  1,356 
7.  26463  PhD Matjaž Panjan  Electronic components and technologies  Head  2020 - 2024  230 
8.  09090  PhD Peter Panjan  Materials science and technology  Retired researcher  2020 - 2024  792 
9.  15604  Tomaž Sirnik    Technical associate  2020 - 2024 
10.  39921  Uroš Stele    Technical associate  2020 - 2024 
11.  20048  PhD Alenka Vesel  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2024  695 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  91,408 
Background One of the most widely used plasma-based physical vapor deposition techniques is magnetron sputtering. The technique allows for the deposition of almost all solid elements from the periodic system. Due to its flexibility, magnetron sputtering is an important deposition method in many areas of technology, such as microelectronics, optics, surface engineering and others. In practice, several magnetron regimes are used ­– continuous (DCMS), pulsed (HiPIMS) and oscillatory (RFMS). Each of these regimes produces plasma with specific characteristics and results in different thin film properties. In recent years, understanding of magnetron plasmas has changed substantially. Magnetron discharges have been considered as azimuthally homogenous. However, imaging with high-speed cameras has shown plasma self-organization in all types of magnetron regimes. Plasma is concentrated in several dense regions of arrow-like shape, called spokes, which are organized in periodic or semi-periodic patterns. Spokes have important implications on the operation of magnetron discharges and consequently on the deposition of thin films. Objectives The goal of the project is to investigate physical processes related to plasma self-organization in magnetron discharges. We want to provide better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that result and regulate the formation of spokes and illuminate connection of these structures to the transport and energy of sputtered species. The objectives of the project will be focused on the following tasks: (i) study properties of plasma self-organization in DCMS, HiPIMS and RFMS regimes, (ii) investigate dynamics of spokes and (iii) analyze energy and transport of ions related to spokes. From these experiments, we will attempt to build a general model that explains self-sustainability, self-organization and dynamics of spokes in all magnetron regimes. As a final goal, the results of the project should provide guidance for the deposition of thin films through control of plasma parameters. Methods The project will apply several unique approaches to elucidate the nature of plasma self-organization. In the first part of studies, we will investigate spoke properties and their dynamics by using electrical probes and high-speed cameras, which have recently become available on the market and allow imaging with microsecond resolution. We will examine plasma properties for different regimes (continuous, pulsed and oscillatory) and vary discharge parameters (i.e., gas pressure, target material and cathode voltage). The goal is to identify parameters that play a crucial role in the formation and stability of spokes. The second part of the project will focus on the energy and transport of ions. For these experiments, we will employ an advanced energy-resolved mass spectrometer, which is capable of performing time-resolved measurements. With these experiments, we hope to demonstrate correlation between the ion emission and spokes. Impact The proposed work is relevant for understanding basic physics of magnetron discharges as well as for the application of the technique in practice. Understanding the underlying physical processes will be useful for better control of the deposition process and consequently for the growth and properties of thin films. In this respect, the research should have practical applications since magnetron sputtering is a key deposition technique for many industries. Various types of magnetized discharges exhibit plasma self-organization. The project results should contribute to research of Hall thrusters (or ion thrusters), which are used in spacecraft propulsion. In these devices, rotating spokes are also present and result in non-linear and unstable behavior of thrusters. Clarifying phenomena related to plasma self-organization will therefore be useful to different areas of plasma research.
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