Interaction of a vacuum arc plasma beam with an obstacle positioned normal to the plasma flow

O. Zarchin, V. N. Zhitomirsky*, S. Goldsmith, R. L. Boxman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of an obstacle positioned normal to a plasma jet produced by a vacuum arc plasma source on the radial distribution of ion flux in the vicinity of the obstacle was studied. This study was motivated by interest in the mutual influence of tightly packed substrates on coatings in industrial vacuum arc deposition systems. The experimental system consisted of a vacuum arc plasma source, a straight plasma duct, and a multi-probe consisting of a removable disc obstacle and a set of ring probes for measuring the radial ion flux. A dc arc discharge was ignited in vacuum between a truncated cone-shaped Cu cathode and an annular anode. The plasma jet produced by cathode spots passed through the anode aperture into the straight plasma duct. An axial magnetic field guided the plasma jet in the duct. The multi-probe consisted of a removable disc obstacle and a set of five ring probes for measuring the radial plasma flux as a function of distance from the disc obstacle. The rings and the disc probes were coaxially arranged on the multi-probe assembly and positioned so that plasma from the source passed through the ring probes and then encountered the disc. The influence of the obstacle was determined by measuring the ring ion currents, both in the presence of the obstacle, and when the disc obstacle was removed. The difference between the measured ion currents with and without the obstacle was interpreted to be the contribution of reflected or sputtered particles from the obstacle to the radial ion flux. The ring probes were biased by -60 V with respect to the grounded anode, to collect the saturated ion current. The multi-probe was connected to a movable stem, and positioned at different distances from the plasma source. A plasma density of ∼6 × 1017 m-3 was estimated in this study based on the ion current to the obstacle. The radial ion flux collected by the ring probes increased by 20-25% due to the presence of the obstacle. As the calculated mean free path for collisions between the plasma ions and sputtered or reflected particles is much larger than the plasma path length, the plasma jet should not be affected by returning particles. Hence, the increase of the radial flux is most probably due to ion reflection from the obstacle and ionized neutral atoms sputtered from the obstacle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2262-2268
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2003


Dive into the research topics of 'Interaction of a vacuum arc plasma beam with an obstacle positioned normal to the plasma flow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this