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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Summary of Recent Experimental Research on Ion Energy and Charge States of Pulsed Vacuum Arcs


The paper reviews the results of vacuum arc experimental investigations made collaboratively by research groups from Berkeley and Tomsk over the last two years, i.e. since the last ISDEIV in 2006. Vacuum arc plasma of various metals was produced in pulses of a few hundred microseconds duration, and the research focussed on three topics: (i) the energy distribution functions for different ion charge states, (ii) the temporal development of the ion charge state distribution, and (iii) the evolution of the mean directed ion velocities during plasma expansion. A combined quadruple mass-to-charge and energy ana-lyzer (EQP by HIDEN Ltd) and a time-of-flight spectrometer were employed. Cross-checking data by those complimen-tary techniques helped to avoid possible pitfalls in interpre-tation. It was found that the ion energy distribution func-tions in the plasma were independent of the ion charge state, which implies that the energy distribution on a substrate are not equal to due to acceleration in the substrate's sheath. In pulsed arc mode, the individual ion charge states fractions showed changes leading to a decrease of the mean charge state toward a steady-state value. This decrease can be re-duced by lower arc current, higher pulse repetition rate and reduced length of the discharge gap. It was also found that the directed ion velocity slightly decreased as the plasma expanded into vacuum.

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