Characterization of a 1kA vacuum arc plasma gun for use as a metal vapour deposition source

R. L. Boxman*, S. Goldsmith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The deposition characteristics of a magnetically collimated plasma jet produced by a 1 kA vacuum arc plasma gun were determined. The ion current flux was determined by measuring probe and wall currents, and the spatial distribution of the deposition rate was determined by measuring the coating thickness distribution along sample coupons. The heat flux carried by the plasma jet was determined by measuring the temperature rise of a thermally isolated probe. The various measurements were compared with each other and with published measurements of cathode-spot-emitted ion currents and ion energies. Ion current fluxes up to 0.3 A cm-2 and 0.6 A cm-2 were obtained for copper and aluminium respectively, with arc currents in the 400-600 A range. Continuous deposition rates of up to 0.3 μm s-1 were obtained. The average energy per deposited particle ranged between 130 and 170 eV. Comparison of the deposition rate with the ion current, and published measurements of the average degree of ionization, suggests that the sticking coefficient of impinging ions is in the range 0.3-0.7.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1034
Number of pages11
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1990
Event17th International Conference on Metallurgical Coatings and 8th International Conference on Thin Films - San Diego, CA, USA
Duration: 2 Apr 19906 Apr 1990


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