Hall Effect Plasma Sources for etching and coating
The Hall Effect (HE) is widely used for electric propulsion in space. Besides this sector, possible ground industry application for Hall Effect technologies are plasma etching and material coating. The donor has worked on HET (Hall Effect Torches) for many years, and its HT-100 is the smallest HET thruster in Europe. They can provide the ion sources in different configurations and powers, from 100W to 5kW. Furthermore, small custom plants have been designed and realised for a variety of purposes
The Hall Effect (HE) is widely used for electric propulsion in space since the ’60 of the last century, thanks to the former Soviet Union missions. More recently, a HET (Hall Effect Thruster) has been used for the SMART-1 ESA mission to the Moon, succeeding in moving the spacecraft for more than one year. The donor has worked on HET for many years, and its HT-100 is the smallest HET thruster in Europe (less than 10 cm in diameter for the assembled system), and the only not relying on Russian patents or heritages. Besides the obvious space applications, the donor has investigated possible ground industry application for Hall Effect technologies, and within the various possibilities the most promising are plasma etching and material coating.
Innovations & Advantages
HE plasma sources represent a technology that can be effectively applied to etching and deposition industrial processes. HE can sustain power densities up to 30W/cm2 compared to the typical 10W/cm2 of a magnetron process; they can generate very high energy plasma flows (up to 350 eV) with high current densities (up to 1 A/cm2), more than 10 times the typical densities of a industry gridded ion source. Advantages on the magnetron and normal ion sources came from the rugged, compact design of the modified HE source and of the complete system. HET systems can work with Xenon, Krypton or Argon as a feeding gas, in relatively low vacuum conditions (about 10-3mbar).
Current and Potential Domains of Application
HE sources could be used in various industrial scenarios:
· Coupled with existing magnetron systems, to increase the sputtering and/or plasma vapour deposition (PVD) processes;
· As a replacement of gridded ion sources in processes of ion implantation;
· In complex, combined plants in which different processing steps (plasma cleaning of a surface, ion sputtering, ion etching …) could be attained by a single ion source