Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Understanding plasma processes and thin film growth in High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering

Research activity

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

Code Science Field
P240  Natural sciences and mathematics  Gases, fluid dynamics, plasmas 

Code Science Field
2.02  Engineering and Technology  Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Information engineering 
High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering, HiPIMS, magnetron sputtering, plasma diagnostics
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (11)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  29158  PhD Elena Chernyshova  Physics  Researcher  2016 - 2018 
2.  22289  PhD Uroš Cvelbar  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2018 
3.  18271  PhD Miha Čekada  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018 
4.  02556  PhD Goran Dražić  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018 
5.  35463  PhD Aljaž Drnovšek  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 - 2017 
6.  33330  PhD Gregor Filipič  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2017 
7.  00582  PhD Miran Gaberšček  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  10 
8.  26153  PhD Manca Logar  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 
9.  15603  Andrej Mohar    Technical associate  2016 - 2018 
10.  26463  PhD Matjaž Panjan  Electronic components and technologies  Head  2016 - 2018 
11.  09090  PhD Peter Panjan  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  10 
2.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  18 
The first aim of the proposed project is to investigate newly discovered plasma organization (so called spokes) in magnetron sputtering discharges. The second part of the project will focus on the properties of the deposited thin films with a goal of correlating properties of magnetron plasma with structural properties of films. The main objectives of the project can be summarized as following: A: Understand plasma processes that occur in High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPMS) and DC Magnetron Sputtering (DCMS) discharges. We will focus our investigations on the role of recently discovered dense plasma regions (spokes) on the ionization process and transport of ions from magnetron to substrates. Spokes will be studied using various plasma diagnostic techniques including: high-speed camera imaging, mass spectrometry, optical emission spectroscopy, Langmuir, emissive and current probes. Properties of the spokes and their dynamics will be analyzed both for HiPIMS and DCMS regimes and different discharge conditions: working gas pressure, discharge current, target material, magnetic field strength and pulsing parameters. B: Build a consistent model that explains organization of plasma in magnetron discharges. Based on the experimental data gathered from the first objective we will attempt to build a self-consistent model that describes sustainability, pattern formation and motion of spokes in pulsed and continuous modes of discharge operation. For this purpose we will write a computer code to solve Lorentz equations of motion for electrons and ions in non-uniform electric and magnetic fields of planar magnetron. From the trajectories of charged particles we intend to learn more about sustainability, shape, organization and dynamics of spokes. The model will also simulate transport of ions and energy distributions of ions. C: Deposit metallic thin films and correlate plasma properties with their structural properties. We will study the influence of ion flux density, their energy and spatial distribution on the formation of film morphology, microstructure, texture, density and crystal phases. Structural properties of metallic thin films will be analyzed with various techniques available at Jožef Stefan Institute and National Institute of Chemistry. Studies will be focused on simple metallic thin films such as Ti, Al and Cu. We will attempt to build a structure zone diagram which relates discharge parameters with film structure. Metallic films prepared in HiPIMS and DCMS mode will be compared for their structural properties.
Significance for science
The research of the proposed project should be beneficial for basic science and indirectly also for applied science. For the basic science the project should advance understanding of plasma process in the magnetron discharges run in continuous and pulsed modes. Elucidating the physics of magnetron discharges, particularly the formation and properties of rotating plasma structures (spokes), will be useful for better control of the deposition process and consequently for the film properties. In this respect, the research should also have a significant applied impact since magnetron sputtering is a key deposition process for many industries. Hence, mastery of plasma self-organization will enable venturing into a new area of plasma research and application. The findings of the proposed project will also contribute to other fields of plasma science. Sputtering magnetron belongs to a group of E×B discharge devices that have similar electric and magnetic arrangement and therefore encompasses similar plasma physics. Another important type of E×B discharges are the Hall thrusters (or ion thrusters), which are used for spacecraft propulsion. In such devices the thrust is achieved by acceleration of heavy ions (typically xenon ions). Though propulsion is very weak, it is accumulated over a long period of time and can accelerate spacecraft to very high velocities which are not accessible to the conventional chemical-type propulsion. In the Hall thrusters the phenomenon of spokes has been known for some time. It has been extensively studied since it is an undesirable feature of the thrusters that requires stable and long-lasting operation for satellites in Earth's orbit and particularly for deep-space exploration missions. Modeling and elucidating properties of spokes in magnetron discharges for large range of discharge conditions should therefore also benefit research communities studying Hall thruster and other E×B discharges.
Significance for the country
Magnetron sputtering is a widely used PVD method for preparation of thin films in various fields of industrial applications. Many modern technologies are affected by magnetron sputtering, including: microelectronics, manufacturing, medicine, solar energy, optics, information technology and others. The proposed project, which is focused on basic studies of magnetron discharges, should in this respect have direct implications for the economy and society. In its modern form, the magnetron sputtering has emerged from DC-run discharges for relatively simple metallization process to multifunctional coatings used in aerospace, manufacturing, medicine and solar energy. These advanced applications require magnetron discharges with a wider range of plasma properties (i.e. plasma density and ion energy). High power impulse magnetron sputtering serves these goals; however, suitable relationship between processes parameters and thin film properties is not fully established. The results of the proposed research should therefore have therefore benefits for the development of thin films for a range of industrial applications.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
Views history