Investigation and optimization of the magnetic field configuration in high-power impulse magnetron sputtering

He Yu, Liang Meng, Matthew M. Szott, Jack T. Meister, Tae S. Cho, David N. Ruzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An effort to optimize the magnetic field configuration specifically for high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) was made. Magnetic field configurations with different field strengths, race track widths and race track patterns were designed using COMSOL. Their influence on HiPIMS plasma properties was investigated using a 36 cm diameter copper target. The I-V discharge characteristics were measured. The temporal evolution of electron temperature (Te) and density (ne) was studied employing a triple Langmuir probe, which was also scanned in the whole discharge region to characterize the plasma distribution and transport. Based on the studies, a closed path for electrons to drift along was still essential in HiPIMS in order to efficiently confine electrons and achieve a high pulse current. Very dense plasmas (1019-1020 m-3) were generated in front of the race tracks during the pulse, and expanded downstream afterwards. As the magnetic field strength increased from 200 to 800 G, the expansion became faster and less isotropic, i.e. more directional toward the substrate. The electric potential distribution accounted for these effects. Varied race track widths and patterns altered the plasma distribution from the target to the substrate. A spiral-shaped magnetic field design was able to produce superior plasma uniformity on the substrate in addition to improved target utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045012
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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