Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ion charge state fluctuations in vacuum arcs


Ion charge state distributions of cathodic vacuum arcs have been investigated using a modified time-of-flight method. Experiments have been done in double gate and burst gate mode, allowing us to study both systematic and stochastic changes of ion charge state distributions with a time resolution down to 100 ns. In the double gate method, two ion charge spectra are recorded with a well-defined time between measurements. The elements Mg, Bi, and Cu were selected for tests, representing metals of very different properties. For all elements it was found that large stochastic changes occur even at the limit of resolution. This is in agreement with fast changing arc properties observed elsewhere. Correlation of results for short times between measurements was found but it is argued that this is due to velocity mixing rather than due to cathode processes. The burst mode of time-of-flight measurements revealed the systematic time evolution of ion charge states within a single arc discharge, as opposed to previous measurements that relied on data averaged over many pulses. The technique shows the decay of the mean ion charge state as well as the level of material-dependent fluctuations.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View