Measurements of the electron energy distribution function in molecular gases in a shielded inductively coupled plasma

Harmeet Singh, David B. Graves

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A cylindrical Langmuir probe has been used to measure the electron energy distribution function (EEDF) in atomic and molecular gases in a shielded inductively coupled plasma. We report the EEDFs in these gases as a function of pressure. While the electron properties in a discharge depend on the product of the neutral number density (N0) and the effective discharge dimension (deff) for a given gas, this dependence is different for different gases. We find that pressure is a convenient parameter for comparison of the EEDFs in these gases. The EEDFs in inert (Ar, Kr, Xe) and molecular gases (H2,N2,O2,H2O,CO2,CF 4) in the low pressure limit (below 1 mTorr) show a "three-temperature" structure. Since this wide range of gases display similar EEDF shape, we propose this structure to be common to all gas discharges in this limit. The EEDF in all of the gases shows a two-temperature structure with apparent tail depletion at 3 mTorr. The similarity of the EEDFs in all of the above gases is probably due to nonlocality of the electrons at these low pressures. The molecular gases exhibit a nearly Maxwellian EEDF between about 10 and 30 mTorr, while the EEDF in argon is non-Maxwellian in this range. At pressures above 30 mTorr, the EEDFs in molecular gases show deviations from a Maxwellian distribution, reflecting the electron-neutral collision cross sections of each gas. The EEDFs in molecular gases at 100 mTorr show significant deviations from a Maxwellian distribution. We find that the EEDF in molecular gases can be approximated by a Maxwellian distribution over a fairly large pressure range of 3-50 mTorr for the purposes of modeling these discharges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3889-3898
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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