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Langmuir Probe

Langmuir Probe
The Langmuir Probe is one of the most common and widely used plasma diagnostics and plasma characterisation instruments to measure parameters in the bulk of the plasma.

The Langmuir Probe measures plasma parameters such as floating potential, plasma potential, plasma density, ion current density, electron energy distribution function and electron temperature. Our system uses the most up to date probe theory available, drawing on Orbital Motion Limited and as the pressure regimes change, moving on to Allen Boyd Reynolds to account for collisions.

The Langmuir Probe is by far the best commercial Langmuir Probe on the market, with its ultra fast repeatable measurements. The inclusion of both a Single and Double Langmuir Probe in each system is evidence of Impedans commitment to its customers.



The Langmuir Probe is a precision plasma measurement instrument used in a wide range of plasma laboratory applications. The Langmuir Probe is the key plasma diagnostic used by scientists interested in plasma characterisation to measure the internal parameters of the bulk of the plasma. Among the key parameters measured are electron density, ion density, electron temperature, plasma potential, floating potential and the electron energy distribution function (EEDF). The Langmuir Probe provides plasma parameter measurement in DC, RF, microwave, continuous and pulsed plasma.

The Langmuir Probe has the most advanced technology on the market and analyses ion and electron trajectories to obtain accurate measurements of the real plasma parameters in a wide range of plasma applications. The Langmuir Probe is the fastest and most reliable Langmuir probe in the world (time resolution 12.5ns). In addition to speed and reliability, the Langmuir Probe provides the most advanced and trusted, fully automated data analysis in real time.

The Impedans Langmuir Probe system comes complete with interchangeable single and double probe tips (at no extra charge) which can be used with the same electronics unit. This allows users conduct experiments across different reactors and allows measurements in reactors which have a poor ground return.

The Langmuir Probe is used to establish plasma process repeatability. It helps the user to understand plasma changes and the impact on surface treatment. The Langmuir Probe is an essential plasma process diagnostic to understand the correlation between plasma inputs and the plasma state. The Langmuir Probe reduces process and tool development time, as well as the time to market for new plasma products. Pulsed plasmas are used to tailor the electron or ion energy and The Langmuir Probe is an integral part of pulsed process development.

Plasma Parameters Measured

  • Floating Potential
  • Plasma Potential
  • Plasma Density
  • Ion Current Density
  • Electron Energy Distribution Function (EEDF)
  • Electron Temperature

Measurement Functionality

Time Averaged Measurements
This provides an average over time of the plasma parameters measured by the Langmuir Probe in the bulk of the plasma.

Time Resolved Measurements
This allows the user to synchronise the plasma parameters measured by the Langmuir Probe with an external synchronisation signal. The user can then obtain detailed information on the plasma parameters as a function of time or phase through the synchronisation pulse period. Typically the pulse period would be on a timescale of milliseconds to microseconds.

Time Trend Measurements
This allows the user to obtain information on the variation of the plasma parameters as time progresses through a particular process. This feature does not require external synchronisation and the timescales involved can be in range of seconds to hours.

Further Product Information

Langmuir Probe Automated Electronics and Software

Electronics UnitThe user-friendly electronics and software takes accurate and reliable measurements with a speed not seen on any other commercial Langmuir Probe. Using an intelligent pre-scan feature, the optimal plasma parameter measurements are performed easily and repeatedly.

Langmuir Probe Tip Cleaning

An automated probe tip cleaning feature is provided as standard to facilitate the cleaning of the probe tip. This is especially useful in deposition plasma. Both automated and manual cleaning procedures are supported by the Single Langmuir Probe systems application software.

Langmuir Probe Replaceable Head

Langmuir Single and Double Probe Heads are easily replaced with the “Easy-Fit” probe tip holder design. Probe tip material is tungsten as standard, with molybdenum, platinum and invar available. Custom probe lengths, diameters, materials, and shapes can be supplied on request and easily updated in the software analysis.

Langmuir Probe Shaft

Probe shaft material is ceramic as standard but custom materials are available on request. Custom probe lengths, diameters and shapes can be supplied on request and easily updated in the software analysis.

Time-Resolved Measurements

A high-speed mode is available to support high resolution time-resolved measurements with a time-step resolution of 12.5ns for pulsed and low frequency applications. Trigger frequencies up to 1MHz are supported, and a built-in programmable delay allows gating of the probe measurements.

Time Averaged Measurements

In applications where high speed resolution is not required averaging the measurement over a number of data points can be used to significantly reduce the noise.

Integrated Air Cooling

Each Langmuir Probe comes with fully integrated air cooling which allows continuous use at high temperatures.

External Trigger

Integrated in the Langmuir Probe System is an external trigger TTL compatible 10Hz to 1MHz

DC Compensation

A novel pre-scan feature eliminates the need for a DC compensation electrode. Voltage shifts in the IV characteristic are monitored at various probe current drains. The plasma to ground resistance is determined and the appropriate correction is applied.

RF Compensation

The Langmuir probe shaft is constructed from metal, coated with a fine layer of ceramic to maximize the coupling of the probe tip to the plasma and eliminate the need for a compensation electrode.

Measuring Parameters

Floating Potential -145V to 145V
Plasma Potential -100V to 145V
Plasma Density 10⁶ to 3x10¹³cm⁻³
Ion Current Density 1µA/cm² to 300mA/cm²
Electron Temperature 0.1 to 15eV
Electron Energy Distribution Function 0 to 100eV

Langmuir Probe Specifications

Plasma Power Source DC, RF, Microwave, Continuous, Pulsed Plasma
RF Plasma Broadband Probe 2MHz to 100MHz
Probe Length 300mm to 1400mm (Custom Available)
Probe Diameter 6.5mm (Custom Available)
Probe Tip Length 10mm (Custom Available)
Probe Tip Diameter 0.4mm (Custom Available)
Probe Tip Material W, Ta, Ni, Pt. (Custom Available)
Probe Customisation 90°, 45° Bend (Custom Available)
Maximum Operating Temperature 230°C (Custom up to 1200°C)

Electronics Control Unit

Probe Voltage Scan Range -150V to +150V
Current Range 15nA to 150mA or 1.5µA to 1A for high current densities
Communication USB 2.0
Sampling Rate 80 MSPS (V, I)
Data Acquisition Resolution 4.5mV, 4.5nA
Time Resolved Step Resolution 12.5nS
External Trigger TTL Compatible 10Hz to 1MHz

Application Software

Operating System Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8

Operating Parameters

Pressure (Pascal) 0 to 1,000Pa
Pressure (Torr) | Single Probe 0 to 10Torr
Pressure (Torr) | Double Probe 0 to 760Torr
Gas Temperature 20º to 1000º
Density 10⁴cm⁻³ to 10¹⁴cm⁻³
Gas Reactivity Inert to Highly Reactive
Power Frequency DC (0kHz) • pDC (0 to 350kHz) • MF (0 to 1MHz) • RF (1MHz to 100MHz) • Microwave (1GHz to 3 GHz)

The Langmuir Probe used in Dusty Plasma applications

Langmuir Probe used in an RF Dusty Plasma to measure the dust charge and density


It is reported that 50 per cent of the failure in semiconductor production is due to dust particle contamination in plasma processes such as plasma etching. This study aimed to develop a method for measuring the density and charges of dust particles in a capacitive coupled cylinder discharge chamber in mixtures of gases SiH4 / C2H4 / Ar. A Langmuir probe was employed to gain such parameters as electron density and ion density of the dusty plasma.

LP02: Langmuir Probe used in an RF Dusty Plasma to measure the dust charge and density

The Langmuir Probe used in Plasma Etching applications

End-point detection of polymer etching using Langmuir Probes


Determining accurately the end point of a plasma-etching process is extremely important for integrated circuit fabrication, as overetching can result in the removal of part of the film, or substrate lying under the film to be etched, and/or in extra undercut of the film. End-point detection is traditionally performed using several different techniques including the four most common techniques: measurement of the DC self-bias voltage, mass spectrometry, emission spectrometry, and interferometry.

LP03: End-point detection of polymer etching using Langmuir Probes

The Langmuir Probe used in HiPIMS Plasma applications

Plasma diagnostics of low-pressure high-power impulse magnetron sputtering assisted by electron cyclotron wave resonance plasma


The study focused on the plasma measurement of parameters to explore the assistance of the electron cyclotron wave resonance (ECWR) on the evolution of HiPIMS discharge, where it has several benefits.

SE04/LP08: Plasma diagnostics of low pressure HiPIMS assisted by ECWR plasma

The Langmuir Probe used in PECVD applications

A study of plasma parameters in a BAI 730 M triode ion plating system by means of a Langmuir probe and plasma mass and energy spectroscopy


Plasma-assisted processes are widely used in various areas of modern manufacturing, including physical vapour deposited (PVD) hard coatings, and there is an ongoing need for characterisation of plasma parameters. Beside the conventional Langmuir probe technique, plasma spectroscopy is being more and more widely used. This paper compares the results obtained by the Langmuir plasma probe with the results of energy and mass resolved plasma spectroscopy during three modes of operation (heating, etching, deposition) in a commercial triode ion plating system (Blazers BAI 730 M) used to deposit hard coatings like TiN, CrN and Ti(C,N).

LP06: A study of plasma parameters in a BAI 730 M triode ion plating system by means of a Langmuir probe and plasma mass and energy spectroscopy

The Langmuir Probe used in Space Plasma applications

Langmuir probe used in a lunar dust application to measure the electron density and energy distribution


The single Langmuir probe is ideal for measuring and understanding the nature of the photoelectron plasma environment above a VUV illuminated surface. It is this photoelectron plasma region that provides the local environment for dust particles in a lunar environment.

LP01: Langmuir probe used in a lunar dust application to measure the electron density and energy distribution

Hall Effect Thruster plasma plume characterization with probe measurements and self-similar fluid models


Hall effect thrusters (HET) are currently recognized as a good propulsion means for long missions and moves that require large velocity increments. The plasma plume of a HET exhibits a relatively large divergence angle of about 45°, and investigating this plume and its expansion into space is vital for understanding these devices and assessing the mechanical and electrical interactions of the exhaust plasma plume with the spacecraft itself and the surrounding environment.

LP04: Hall Effect Thruster plasma plume characterization with probe measurements and self-similar fluid models

The Langmuir Probe used in Plasma Sputtering applications

Observation of two-temperature electrons in a sputtering magnetron plasma


Understanding electron transport in sputtering magnetrons is essential for the understanding of the operation of these devices, which are used for sputter etching and thin-film deposition. Several recent experiments have used Langmuir probes to investigate the electron component of a magnetron plasma and mechanisms of electron transport. For instance, Rossnagel and Kaufman reported that the electron temperature and density decrease with distance from the cathode, and noted the presence of a high-temperature electron tail under certain conditions, such as in a He discharge.

LP05: Observation of two-temperature electrons in a sputtering magnetron plasma

Time-resolved plasma characterisation of modulated pulsed power magnetron sputtering using a Langmuir probe


With the knowledge that no investigation of certain key parameters of the plasma during Modulated Pulse Power Magnetron Sputtering (MPPMS) has yet been published, in this study, the authors employed a Langmuir probe to measure temporally resolved electron density, ion density, electron temperature, floating potential and plasma potential during the process.

LP07: Time-resolved plasma characterisation of modulated pulsed power magnetron sputtering using a Langmuir probe

Theory of Operation: Langmuir Probe
Plasma Parameter Characterisation System


The concept of the Langmuir probe was developed almost a century ago and is named after its inventor Irving Langmuir. The Langmuir probe was the first diagnostic tool used for studying plasmas in detail and it is still widely used today. Langmuir probes, in principle, provide a simple and relatively inexpensive diagnostic for measuring the plasma parameters. However, there are a number of issues in the design and interpretation of Langmuir probe characteristics which have led in the past to a wide disparity in measured parameters obtained under similar conditions. Part of this difficulty results from an imprecise knowledge of the RF discharge parameters, voltage, current and deposited power, but this has been partially resolved by the availability of VI probes to make accurate measurements of the discharge RF parameters.

In-situ layout of the Single Langmuir Probe in a typical plasma chamber setup

Figure 1: In-situ layout of the Single Langmuir Probe in a typical plasma chamber setup

Theory of Operation

The Langmuir is a conducting wire placed inside the plasma with a variable bias, V applied. The current I, is measured as a function of V. This is called the I(V) characteristic and it has three regions; the electron collection region, the electron retardation region and the ion collection region.

Simple Langmuir Probe Schematic

Figure 2: Simple Langmuir probe schematic

Modern Langmuir probe systems are quite complex diagnostic systems with many features to prevent the pitfalls of probe diagnostics; some of which are less than obvious to the non- expert. Even with these precautions the probe system will be limited to a range of plasma conditions where accurate results are obtainable.

Current Voltage I(V) characteristic of a single Langmuir probe

Figure 3: The Current Voltage I(V) characteristic of a single Langmuir probe

A probe system can provide the following parameters: floating potential, Vf, which is the point where ion collection current equals electron retarding current. This is the potential at which an isolated object will float when placed in the plasma. The plasma potential, Vp, is the potential of the space the plasma occupies. It is normally positive with respect to the surrounding chamber to prevent excessive loss of electrons. Below Vp the electrons are retarded by the probe potential and the electron current falls off at a rate that depends on the electron average energy. Above Vp we enter the electron collection region. It is possible to calculate the electron density, Ne from the magnitude of the current at the plasma potential. The ion density, Ni is determined from the ion current in the ion collection region. A difficulty here is that the ion current needs to be extrapolated back to the plasma potential, Vp, to make accurate measurement of Ni.[1] This requires a theory to understand ion orbits around the probe and the effect of collisions in the sheath. The electron temperature, kTe, is determined from the rate at which the electron current falls in the electron retarding region. Here again, the best accuracy is achieved when the ion current is extrapolated and removed from the total current. Finally the electron energy distribution function (EEDF), can be obtained from the second derivative of the I(V) characteristic with zero energy at the plasma potential. The EEDF requires an accurate removal of the ion current and an accurate determination of the Plasma potential, Vp. It is possible to integrate the EEDF to get the electron density and the average electron energy and these measurement are independent and can be used as checks on the values of Ne and KTe derived directly from the I(V) characteristics.

The Langmuir probe can obtain data as a function of position with a resolution of a few mm and in time with resolution in the range of ns. The order of presentation of the parameters above can loosely be regarded as in order of difficulty, with the floating potential being the easiest to obtain and the EEDF being the most complex.

A suitable benchmark of a high quality EEDF can be obtained from the two-temperature structure in the case of the low-pressure RF discharge in Ramsauer-type gas such as argon[2] and the EEDF of a molecular gas which has a characteristic hole in gases such as nitrogen[3] due to the large in-elastic cross-section associated with vibrational excitation. These features are well characterised but difficult for a probe system to resolve and can act as a bench-mark on the quality of a probe system. A major objective of a commercial Langmuir probe system design is that it can be operated by an inexperienced operator and give reliable results.

Plasma can be formed either by a direct current (DC), a radio frequency (RF) current or microwave MW source. In the case of an RF plasma the plasma potential will tend to follow the RF bias by a amount that depends on both the amplitude of the RF but more importantly the configuration of the plasma; with a symmetrical parallel plate configuration having the highest magnitude of fluctuations of Vp and the inductive coupled plasma often having the lowest fluctuations in Vp. The removal of RF fluctuation in Vp relative to ground is normally achieved by means of the Passive Probe method first developed by Gagne and Cantin[4]. The probe is forced to float at the RF potential by ensuring that the probe-plasma impedance, Zp, is much less than the probe-ground impedance, Zs. The probe circuit is then a potential divider with the RF potential appearing across Zs and the probe floats relative to the plasma potential. When Zs > > Zp the characteristic is similar to a DC characteristic with the RF voltage fluctuations removed.

Schematic of Passive RF Compensation

Figure 4: Schematic of passive RF compensation

The Impedans Langmuir probe uses a high impedance RF filter to maximise Zs and the probe shaft is metallic with a thin ceramic layer to capacitively couple the probe to the plasma and minimise the Impedance between the probe tip and the plasma. The plasma to ground impedance is normally low at RF. This shunt capacitance of the ceramic coated probe holder dominates the plasma-probe impedance but has no effect on the direct current collected to the probe, the large area of the holder ensures that Zp is as small as possible. The probe holder diameter is minimised to prevent the probe structure from depleting the plasma. The blocking impedance is Zs > 100 kΩ over a broad range of frequencies.

Passive probe compensation works well at frequencies above 1MHz, where the plasma parameters are not modulated by the RF. At lower frequencies, < 1MHz, the plasma parameters change depending on the phase of the applied voltage waveform. Passive compensation is no longer valid below 1MHz and we need to move to time resolved measurement of the I(V) characteristic. This is achieved by using a sync signal coherent with the power source and an Advanced Boxcar Mode developed by Impedans.

Figure 5: Applied theories for electron and ion collection

The video above demonstrates the probe collecting ion and electron current, depending on the polarity of the potential sweep. At very low pressures the ion current to the probe is limited by orbital motion due to the ions angular momentum. As pressure increases collisions in the sheath reduce the effect of orbital motion. The probe calculates the number of collisions and applies the correct theory.


[1] M.B. Hopkins J. Res. Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol. Vol. 100, No. 4, p. 415
[2] M. M. Turner, R. A. Doyle, and M. B. Hopkins, Measured and simulated electron energy distribution functions in a low-pressure radio frequency discharge in argon, Appl. Phy. Letts. 62(25), 3247 3249 (1993).
[3] M. M. Turner and M. B. Hopkins, Anomalous sheath heating in a low pressure RF discharge in nitrogen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 69, 3511 (1992).
[4] R. R. J. Gagne and A. Cantin, J. Appl. 43, 2639 2647 (1972).


Download the Langmuir Probe Theory of Operation in PDF format
Theory of Operation: Langmuir Probe

Deposition of rutile (TiO2) with preferred orientation by assisted high power impulse magnetron sputtering

Vitezslav Stranaka, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author, Ann-Pierra Herrendorfa, Harm Wulffa, Steffen Drachea, Martin Cadab, Zdenek Hubickab, Milan Tichyc, Rainer Hipplera

Published 15 May 2013


The effect of energetic ion bombardment on TiO2 crystallographic phase formation was studied. Films were deposited using high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) assisted by an electron cyclotron wave resonance (ECWR) plasma. The ECWR assistance allows a significant reduction of pressure down to 0.075 Pa during reactive HiPIMS deposition and subsequently enables control of the energy of the deposited species over a wide range. Films deposited at high ion energies and deposition rates form rutile with (101) a preferred orientation. With decreasing ion energy and deposition rates, rutile is formed with random crystallite orientation, and finally at low ion energies the anatase phase occurs. It is supposed that particles gain high energy during the HiPIMS pulse while the ECWR discharge is mostly responsible for substrate heating due to dissipated power. However, the energetic contribution of the ECWR discharge is not sufficient for annealing and phase transformation.

Online at Surface and Coatings Technology Volume 222, 15 May 2013, Pages 112–117

Time-resolved Langmuir probe investigation of hybrid high power impulse magnetron sputtering discharges

Steffen Drachea, Vitezslav Stranaka, Ann-Pierra Herrendorfa, Martin Cadab, Zdenek Hubickab, Milan Tichyc, Rainer Hipplera

Published April 2013


The paper focuses on time-resolved diagnostics of unipolar hybrid-dual-High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (hybrid-dual-HiPIMS) discharges. The newly developed sputtering system is based on a combination of dual-HiPIMS with a mid-frequency (MF) discharge. The most important feature of hybrid-dual-HiPIMS systems is the MF pre-ionization which causes/allows: (i) a significant reduction of working pressure by more than one order of magnitude, and (ii) faster ignition and development of HiPIMS pulses. Parameters such as mean electron energy, electron density and electron energy probability function (EEPF) were obtained from time-resolved Langmuir probe diagnostics to demonstrate the aforementioned effects. Calorimetric probe diagnostics were used for determination of the total power density flux. Power flux contributions of particular species, e.g. ions, electrons and neutrals, were estimated as well.

Online at Vacuum Volume 90, April 2013, Pages 176–181

Design and characterization of the Magnetized Plasma Interaction Experiment (MAGPIE): a new source for plasma–material interaction studies

Boyd D Blackwell, Juan Francisco Caneses, Cameron M Samuell, John Wach, John Howard and Cormac Corr

Published 4 October 2012


The Magnetized Plasma Interaction Experiment (MAGPIE) is a versatile helicon source plasma device operating in a magnetic hill configuration designed to support a broad range of research activity and is the first stage of the Materials Diagnostic Facility at the Australian National University. Various material targets can be introduced to study a range of plasma–material interaction phenomena.

Initially, with up to 2.1 kW of RF at 13.56 MHz, argon (10¹⁸–10¹⁹ m⁻³) and hydrogen (up to 10¹⁹ m⁻³ at 20 kW) plasma with electron temperature ~3–5 eV was produced in magnetic fields up to ~0.19 T. For high mirror ratio we observe the formation of a bright blue core in argon above a threshold RF power of 0.8 kW. Magnetic probe measurements show a clear m = +1 wave field, with wavelength smaller than or comparable to the antenna length above and below this threshold, respectively. Spectroscopic studies indicate ion temperatures

Online at Boyd D Blackwell et al 2012 Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 21 055033

Time-resolved measurement of plasma parameters in the far-field plume of a low-power Hall effect thruster

K Dannenmayer, P Kudrna, M Tichý and S Mazouffre

Published 13 September 2012


Time-resolved measurements using electrostatic probes are performed in the far-field plume of a low-power permanent magnet Hall effect thruster. These measurements are necessary in order to account for the non-stationary behavior of the discharge. The plasma potential is measured by means of a cylindrical Langmuir and a sufficiently heated emissive probe, the electron temperature and density are measured with a cylindrical Langmuir probe. The thruster is maintained in a periodic quasi-harmonic oscillation regime by applying a sinusoidal modulation to a floating electrode in the vicinity of the cathode in order to guarantee repeatable conditions for all measurements. The modulation depth of the discharge current does not exceed approximately 10%. In order to achieve synchronism, the frequency of the modulation has to be close to the natural frequency of the observed phenomena. It is different depending on whether the discharge current or the plasma potential is selected as a reference. The measurements show that the fluctuations of the electron density follow the discharge current fluctuations. The time evolution of the plasma potential and the electron temperature is similar. The time-averaged properties of the discharge remain almost uninfluenced by the modulation. Measurements of the plasma potential with the two different probes are in good agreement. The observed phenomena are similar for Xe and Kr used as propellant gases.

Online at K Dannenmayer et al 2012 Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 21 055020

Langmuir probe measurements in the intense RF field of a helicon discharge

Francis F Chen

Published 6 September 2012


Helicon discharges have extensively been studied for over 25 years both because of their intriguing physics and because of their utility in producing high plasma densities for industrial applications. Almost all measurements so far have been made away from the antenna region in the plasma ejected into a chamber where there may be a strong magnetic field (B-field) but where the radiofrequency (RF) field is much weaker than under the antenna. Inside the source region, the RF field distorts the current–voltage (I–V) characteristic of the probe unless it is specially designed with strong RF compensation. For this purpose, a thin probe was designed and used to show the effect of inadequate compensation on electron temperature (Te) measurements. The subtraction of ion current from the I–V curve is essential; and, surprisingly, Langmuir's orbital motion limited theory for ion current can be used well beyond its intended regime.

Online at Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 21 055013

Wave modeling in a cylindrical non-uniform helicon discharge

L. Chang, M. J. Hole, J. F. Caneses, G. Chen, B. D. Blackwell and C. S. Corr

Published 31 August 2012


A radio frequency field solver based on Maxwell's equations and a cold plasma dielectric tensor is employed to describe wave phenomena observed in a cylindrical non-uniform helicon discharge. The experiment is carried out on a recently built linear plasma-material interaction machine: The magnetized plasma interaction experiment [Blackwell et al., Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. (submitted)], in which both plasma density and static magnetic field are functions of axial position. The field strength increases by a factor of 15 from source to target plate, and the plasma density and electron temperature are radially non-uniform. With an enhancement factor of 9.5 to the electron-ion Coulomb collision frequency, a 12% reduction in the antenna radius, and the same other conditions as employed in the experiment, the solver produces axial and radial profiles of wave amplitude and phase that are consistent with measurements. A numerical study on the effects of axial gradient in plasma density and static magnetic field on wave propagations is performed, revealing that the helicon wave has weaker attenuation away from the antenna in a focused field compared to a uniform field. This may be consistent with observations of increased ionization efficiency and plasma production in a non-uniform field. We find that the relationship between plasma density,static magnetic field strength, and axial wavelength agrees well with a simple theory developed previously. A numerical scan of the enhancement factor to the electron-ion Coulomb collision frequency from 1 to 15 shows that the wave amplitude is lowered and the power deposited into the core plasma decreases as the enhancement factor increases, possibly due to the stronger edge heating for higher collision frequencies.

Online at Phys. Plasmas 19, 083511 (2012)

Measurement of plasma parameters in the far-field plume of a Hall effect thruster

K Dannenmayer, P Kudrna, M Tichý and S Mazouffre

Published 29 November 2011


The far-field plume of a 1.5 kW Hall effect thruster is mapped with a Langmuir probe and an emissive probe. Time-averaged measurements of the plasma potential, the electron temperature and the electron number density are performed for different operating conditions of the thruster. The influence of the discharge voltage, the cathode mass flow rate as well as the magnetic field strength is investigated. The plasma potential decreases from 30 V at 300 mm on the thruster axis to 5 V at 660 mm and at 60°, the electron temperature decreases from 5 to 1.5 eV. The electron number density drops from 3.5 × 10¹⁶ to 1 × 10¹⁵ m⁻³ in the far-field plume. The values of the plasma potential and electron temperature measured with the Langmuir probe and the emissive probe are in good agreement.

Online at K Dannenmayer et al 2011 Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 20 065012

Response of an ion–ion plasma to dc biased electrodes

Lara Popelier, Ane Aanesland and Pascal Chabert

Published 15 July 2011


Electronegative plasmas are plasmas containing a significant fraction of negative ions, when magnetized they are very often segregated: the core is electropositive or weakly electronegative whereas a highly electronegative plasma forms at the periphery. At strong magnetic fields this segregation can lead to the formation of ion–ion plasmas almost free of electrons close to the walls or extraction surfaces and allows access to both positive and negative ions. The PEGASES thruster aims at alternately extracting and accelerating positive and negative ions from the ion–ion plasma region to provide thrust by both types of ions. The acceleration schemes depend on the possible control of the potential in an ion–ion plasma relative to the acceleration grids. In this paper continuous extraction and acceleration of positive ions from the PEGASES thruster is investigated by a retarding field energy analyser. It is shown from the measured ion energy distribution functions that the continuous acceleration potential can be controlled by biasing bare electrodes in contact with the region of the plasma with high electron density (i.e. the weakly electronegative plasma core). A grounded grid placed in the ion–ion region allows consequently the acceleration of positive ions, where the ion velocity is controlled by the bias applied to the electrodes in the plasma core. In contrast, when the grid in the ion–ion region is biased, positive ion beams are not detected downstream of the grid. The results indicate that biasing a grid positively in the ion–ion region may result in an electronegative space-charge sheath in front of the grid, which traps the positive ions inside the thruster.

Online at Lara Popelier et al 2011 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 44 315203

Ion and Photon Surface Interaction during Remote Plasma ALD of Metal Oxides

H. B. Profijt, P. Kudlacek, M. C. M. van de Sanden and W. M. M. Kessels

Published February 25, 2011


The influence of ions and photons during remote plasma atomic layer deposition (ALD) of metal oxide thin films was investigated for different O2 gas pressures and plasma powers. The ions have kinetic energies of ≤35 eV and fluxes of ∼1012–1014 cm−2 s−1 toward the substrate surface: low enough to prevent substantial ion-induced film damage, but sufficiently large to potentially stimulate the ALD surface reactions. It is further demonstrated that 9.5 eV vacuum ultraviolet photons, present in the plasma, can degrade the electrical performance of electronic structures with ALD synthesized metal oxide films.

Online at doi: 10.1149/1.3552663 J. Electrochem. Soc. 2011 volume 158, issue 4, G88-G91

The Influence of Ions and Photons during Plasma-Assisted ALD of Metal Oxides

Harald B. Profijt, Pavel Kudlacek, M. C. M. Van de Sanden and W. M. M. Kessels

Published 2010


The influence of oxygen ions and photons during remote plasma atomic layer deposition (ALD) of metal oxide thin films was investigated for pressures of 0.5-3 Pa and plasma powers of 100-500 W. Ions have kinetic energies of ~15-35 eV and fluxes of ~10^13-10^14 cm^-2 s^-1 towards the substrate surface. The ion energy is low enough to prevent substantial ion-induced film damage, however the total energy flux provided to the substrate is sufficiently large to potentially stimulate the ALD surface reactions, e.g., through ligand desorption and adatom migration. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the presence of VUV photons with energies of ~9.5 eV can deteriorate the electrical performance of electronic structures with ALD synthesized metal oxide films.

Online at doi: 10.1149/1.3485242 ECS Trans. 2010 volume 33, issue 2, 61-67

Comparison of plasma parameters determined with a Langmuir probe and with a retarding field energy analyzer

D Gahan, B Dolinaj and M B Hopkins

Published 31 July 2008


A comparison is made between plasma parameters measured with a retarding field energy analyzer (RFEA), mounted at a grounded electrode in an inductive discharge, and a Langmuir probe located in bulk plasma close to the analyzer. Good agreement between measured plasma parameters is obtained for argon gas pressure in the range 2–10 mTorr. Parameters compared include time averaged plasma potential, the tail of the electron energy distribution function (EEDF), the electron temperature and the ion flux. This highlights the versatility of the RFEA for determining plasma parameters adjacent to the surface where probe measurements are not easily made. Combination of the probe and energy analyzer has enabled the measurement of the EEDF to a higher energy than otherwise possible.

Online at D Gahan et al 2008 Plasma Sources Sci. Technol. 17 035026 doi:10.1088/0963-0252/17/3/035026

Langmuir Probe Tip Removal and Replacement

Operational video showing Impedans unique and easy method for switching between single and double Langmuir Probe tips.

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