Filtered Vacuum Arc Deposition of Semiconductor Thin Films

Raymond L. Boxman, Samuel Goldsmith, Amir Ben-Shalom, Larissa Kaplan, David Arbilly, Evgeny Gidalevich, Vladimir Zhitomirsky, Amiel Ishaya, Michael Keidar, Isak I. Beilis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The cathode spot vacuum arc produces a jet of highly ionized plasma plus a spray of liquid droplets, both consisting of cathode material. The droplets are filtered from the plasma by passing the plasma through a curved, magnetized duct. A radial magnetic field may be applied to the face of the cathode to rotate and distribute the cathode spots in order to obtain even erosion and avoid local overheating. The choice of axial magnetic field strength in the vicinity of the cathode is a compromise between a relatively high field desired to collimate a large fraction of the plasma flux, and the need to collect a substantial fraction of the plasma at the anode in order to reduce arc voltage and insure arc stability. The transmission of the filter duct increases with magnetic field strength until a saturation value is reached. Entrainment of the droplets in the plasma jet can decrease the effectiveness of the filter at high plasma flux. Semiconducting thin films of amorphous silicon were prepared using cathodes of heavily B-doped Si. Arcs of 35-A current produced a deposition rate of 10 Å/s. The electrical conductivity of the films was similar to conventional a-Si:H films deposited by conventional Silane based PACVD at high temperatures, but had a higher room-temperature conductivity. Transparent conducting films of Sn-O were deposited at rates of up to 100 Å/s using 160-A arcs on a Sn cathode while injecting O2 gas in the vicinity of the substrate. Adjustment of the O content is critical for optimizing conductivity, and complicated by pumping effects of the arc. Optimal conductivity was achieved at an oxygen pressure of 6 mtorr. Conductivities equal to the best reported to date were achieved by subjecting the room-temperature deposited films to a 30-s rapid thermal annealing at 350° C. Both the deposited and annealed films are amorphous. The deposition rates achieved by the filtered vacuum arc technique for these semiconductor films are an order of magnitude greater than achieved with conventional methods, while the conductivities are equivalent or better.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-944
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995


FundersFunder number
Israel Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
Israel Ministry of Science and Technology
Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University


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