Radio-frequency (RF) plasmas play a critical role in advanced technologies such as fusion heating, TV-displays, mobile phones, solar-cells, nano-chip fabrication, aerospace applications, high-efficiency lighting, biomedicine and cancer treatment. Intriguing fundamental scientific issues and the enormous social impact that result from their applications drive the field of plasma science and technology. Despite the significant benefit such technologies deliver, the physics of RF plasmas remains a challenging field. It is of importance to investigate highly promising new plasma sources that can pave the way for future technologies.
Existing plasma processes, typically based on the standard continuous wave (CW) plasma production mechanism, are reaching their limits for achieving control at the atomic scale that is critical to providing perfect selectivity and dimension control for next generation devices . A cost-effective solution is to develop more controls on existing plasma tools. These new “control knobs” should allow tuning of the plasma to precisely control electron, ion and photon energy distributions and fluxes at the surface of materials. Pulsed plasma sources, whereby switching the RF power on and off periodically modulates the plasma, are attracting considerable interest in device fabrication. Pulsing provides two new control knobs – the pulsing frequency and the duty cycle of the pulses – and could provide many new opportunities for optimising the plasma-processing environment .
Both experimental and modeling based projects can be undertaken.
. “Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest”, National Research Council, The National Academies Press
. Camille Petit-Etienne, Maxime Darnon, Paul Bodart, Marc Fouchier, Gilles Cunge et al. “Atomic-scale silicon etching control using pulsed Cl2 plasma”, Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B 31, 011201 (2013)