Ion current produced by a vacuum arc carbon plasma source

Vladimir N. Zhitomirsky*, Oren Zarchin, She Guan Wang, Raymond L. Boxman, Samuel Goldsmith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A vacuum arc carbon plasma source is described, in which an arc was ignited between a cathode and an anode having an aperture, by bringing the two electrodes into contact, and parting them while current was flowing. The inter-electrode gap length was varied. A focusing magnetic field was applied in the inter-electrode gap, and a toroidal magnetic field was applied to guide plasma through a toroidal duct. The influence of the arc current (Iarc), gap length (L), and focusing magnetic field (Bf) on the cathode spot motion, plasma behavior, and output ion current was studied. It was shown that with Iarc = 150-250 A and relatively weak Bf, the spots moved on the cathode periphery, causing noisy arcing and fluctuation of the output ion current, while at a lower Iarc (50-100 A) and strong Bf (≥ 28 mT), there were spots on the cathode surface, they tended to move toward the cathode center, the arc noise decreased and the average output ion current increased. With increasing L from 2 to 18 mm, the total ion current at first rapidly increased, and then saturated at L ≥ 10 mm. Best performance of the carbon plasma source was obtained with an arc current chosen so that with a given field configuration, the cathode spots locate in the center of the cathode surface, and with strong magnetic fields in both the electrode and toroidal filter regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-780
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - Oct 2001


  • Carbon plasma
  • Coatings
  • Plasma filter
  • Plasma measurements
  • Vacuum arcs


Dive into the research topics of 'Ion current produced by a vacuum arc carbon plasma source'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this