The self-excitation of plasma series resonance (PSR) oscillations plays an important role in the electron heating dynamics in capacitively coupled radio-frequency (CCRF) plasmas. In a combined approach of PIC/MCC simulations and a theoretical model based on an equivalent circuit, we investigate the self-excitation of PSR oscillations and their effect on the electron heating in geometrically symmetric CCRF plasmas driven by multiple consecutive harmonics. The discharge symmetry is controlled via the electrical asymmetry effect (EAE), i.e. by varying the total number of harmonics and tuning the phase shifts between them. It is demonstrated that PSR oscillations will be self-excited under both symmetric and asymmetric conditions, if (i) the charge-voltage relation of the plasma sheaths deviates from a simple quadratic behavior and (ii) the inductance of the plasma bulk exhibits a temporal modulation. These two effects have been neglected up to now, but we show that they must be included in the model in order to properly describe the nonlinear series resonance circuit and reproduce the self-excitation of PSR oscillations, which are observed in the electron current density resulting from simulations of geometrically symmetric CCRF plasmas. Furthermore, the effect of PSR self-excitation on the discharge current and the plasma properties, such as the potential profile, is illustrated by applying Fourier analysis. High-frequency oscillations in the entire spectrum between the applied frequencies and the local electron plasma frequency are observed. As a consequence, the electron heating is strongly enhanced by the presence of PSR oscillations. A complex electron heating dynamics is found during the expansion phase of the sheath, which is fully collapsed, when the PSR is initially self-excited. The nonlinear electron resonance heating (NERH) associated with the PSR oscillations causes a spatial asymmetry in the electron heating. By discussing the resulting ionization profile in the nonlocal regime of low-pressure CCRF plasmas, we examine why the ion flux at both electrodes remains approximately constant, independently of the phase shifts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics