Plasma Characterisation

Plasma characterisation, plasma ion analysers and langmuir probes

Hiden plasma probes measure some of the key plasma parameters and provide detailed information relating to plasma reaction chemistry.

ESPion probe in plasma


A wide range of industrial processes use electrical plasmas, and new applications are developing rapidly. In the microelectronics industry the demands of higher yields and shrinking device geometries mean that process reproducibility and understanding is vital.

Detailed understanding of the reaction kinetics of plasma ions and neutral species plays a key role in the development of advanced surface engineering processes such as HIPIMS.


Hiden EQP and PSM mass/energy analysers are offered with a range of standard sampling options to provide for plasma characterisation in a broad range of applications including :

ECR – Electron Cyclic Resonance

Electron Cyclotron Resonance plasma is used for chemical vapour deposition, CVD and etching in semiconductor processing. Magnetic shielding of the EQP and PSM Mass/Energy Analyser enables operation in the high magnetic field environment produced by the ECR plasma source. EQP Mass and energy analyser for plasma diagnostics PSM Series Advanced Plasma Sampling Mass Spectrometers

Magnetron Sputtering

Magnetron sputtering is for plasma vapour deposition and is available in DC and RF forms producing a range of thin films used in many industries including decorative coatings, hard disk drive platters , optoelectronics and solar cells.

High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS)

Pulsed plasma provide high density plasma for adhesion enhancing pre-treatment of the substrate prior to coating deposition (substrate etching) and deposition of thin films with high microstructure density. Hiden’s data acquisition system provides for time resolved data acquisition across the plasma pulse providing mass resolved ion energy information for positive and negative ions.

Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) and RF Plasma

ICP and RF plasma are used for many applications including reactive ion etching of thin films. Hiden’s advanced Langmuir probe system, ESPion includes RF compensation circuits to enable operation and data collection from within the plasma RF environment. ESPion Advanced langmuir probe for plasma diagnostics.

Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD)

DBD plasma sources are widely used for surface modification at atmospheric plasma. Hiden’s HPR-60 molecular beam sampling system provides for mass and enrgy analysis of plasma ions, neutrals and radicals from DBD and other plasma sources operating at atmospheric pressure. HPR-60 Molecular Beam Sampling Mass Spectrometer





Description of HiPIMS plasma regimes in terms of composition, spoke formation and deposition rate

The behaviour of Cu and Cr HiPIMS (high power impulse magnetron sputtering) discharges was investigated by a combination of optical emission spectroscopy, energy-resolved mass spectrometry and optical imaging, for the complete current–voltage characteristic range achievable within our experimental conditions. Inflection points typical of HiPIMS current–voltage characteristics separate plasma regimes perfectly differentiated in terms of flux composition of species towards the substrate, deposition rate, and the nature of plasma self-organization. The reorganization of the HiPIMS plasma into spokes (areas of high ionization over the target) is associated to one regime of high plasma conductivity, where also deposition rate is limited. This spoke-dominated regime can be substituted by a homogeneous regime at higher powers, where there is an increase of deposition rate, which is driven mostly by an increase in the flux of metal neutrals and metal double-charged ions. The relevance of secondary electron emission mechanisms for the support of the spoke-dominated regime in reactive and non-reactive sputtering conditions is discussed.

Teresa de los Arcos, Raphael Schroder, Yolanda Aranda Gonzalvo, Volker Schulz-von der Gathen and Jorg Winter (Published 25 September 2014)

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