The electrical asymmetry effect in capacitively coupled radio-frequency discharges

U. Czarnetzki, J. Schulze, E. Schüngel, Z. Donkó

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)


We present an analytical model to describe capacitively coupled radio-frequency (CCRF) discharges and the electrical asymmetry effect (EAE) based on the non-linearity of the boundary sheaths. The model describes various discharge types, e.g. single and multi-frequency as well as geometrically symmetric and asymmetric discharges. It yields simple analytical expressions for important plasma parameters such as the dc self-bias, the uncompensated charge in both sheaths, the discharge current and the power dissipated to electrons. Based on the model results the EAE is understood. This effect allows control of the symmetry of CCRF discharges driven by multiple consecutive harmonics of a fundamental frequency electrically by tuning the individual phase shifts between the driving frequencies. This novel class of capacitive radio-frequency (RF) discharges has various advantages: (i) A variable dc self-bias can be generated as a function of the phase shifts between the driving frequencies. In this way, the symmetry of the sheaths in geometrically symmetric discharges can be broken and controlled for the first time. (ii) Almost ideal separate control of ion energy and flux at the electrodes can be realized in contrast to classical dual-frequency discharges driven by two substantially different frequencies. (iii) Non-linear self-excited plasma series resonance oscillations of the RF current can be switched on and off electrically even in geometrically symmetric discharges. Here, the basics of the EAE are introduced and its main applications are discussed based on experimental, simulation, and modeling results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024010
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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