, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 599-608
Date: 03 Jul 2007

Influence of Gas Entry Point on Plasma Chemistry, Ion Energy and Deposited Alumina Thin Films in Filtered Cathodic Arc

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The effect of gas entry point on the plasma chemistry, ion energy distributions and resulting alumina thin film growth have been investigated for a d.c. cathodic arc with an aluminum cathode operated in an oxygen/argon atmosphere. Ions of aluminum, oxygen and argon, as well as ions originating from the residual gas are investigated, and measurements for gas entry at both the cathode and close to the substrate are compared. The latter was shown to result in higher ion flux, lower levels of ionised residual gas, and lower ion energies, as compared to gas inlet at the cathode. These plasma conditions that apply when gas entry at the substrate is used result in a higher film deposition rate, less residual gas incorporation, and more stoichiometric alumina films. The results show that the choice of gas entry point is a crucial parameter in thin film growth using reactive PVD processes such as reactive cathodic arc deposition.