Geometrically symmetric capacitively coupled oxygen plasmas are studied experimentally by optical emission spectroscopy and probe measurements as well as via numerical simulations using the kinetic Particle-in-Cell/Monte Carlo collision (PIC/MCC) approach. The experiments reveal that at a fixed pressure of 20 mTorr and a driving frequency of 13.56 MHz, the central electron density increases with an increased electrode gap, while the time averaged optical emission of atomic oxygen lines decreases. These results are reproduced and understood by the PIC/MCC simulations performed under identical conditions. The simulations show that the electron density increases due to a mode transition from the Drift-Ambipolar-mode to the α-mode induced by increasing the electrode gap. This mode transition is due to a drastic change of the electronegativity and the mean electron energy, which leads to the observed reduction of the emission intensity of an atomic oxygen line. The observed mode transition is also found to cause a complex non-monotonic dependence of the O 2 + ion flux to the electrodes as a function of the electrode gap. These fundamental results are correlated with measurements of the etch rate of amorphous carbon layers at different gap distances.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics