Hollow cathode discharge (HCD) is widely used in material processing and plasma emission spectroscopy due to several advantages over other plasma sources. Basically, the HCD consists of a cathode with a hollow structure (cavity, hole, or parallel faces) and an anode of arbitrary shape. In this investigation, experimental studies on low-pressure plane-parallel HCD operated at different process conditions are reported. Herein, we investigate the dependence of the discharge current on the product of the gas pressure and inter-cathode distance (pD). In addition, the electron temperature and density were inferred from the current-voltage characteristics of a single cylindrical Langmuir probe positioned between the cathodes, on the discharge axis. The measurements were carried out at different gas pressures, magnetic field intensities, working gases, inter-cathode distances, cathode materials, and discharge voltages. The results showed that, at different gas pressures, the maximum discharge current (I d,max) is not only a function of the product pD, but also of the pressure itself. Application of a uniform longitudinal magnetic field improved plasma confinement between cathodes, leading to a substantial increase in I d,max in most of the situations considered in this study. However, for oxygen discharge, a strong discharge current reduction after the application of the magnetic field was observed. In relation to the Langmuir probe studies, it was observed that the uniform longitudinal magnetic field reduced the electron temperature, but this behavior depends strictly on pD. The typical values of electron density and electron temperature in the case of the nitrogen discharge were n e = 1017 m−3 and T e = 2.5 eV, respectively. Finally, our experiments showed that the pD range for hollow cathode effects was between 0.2–5 Pa m.
Brazilian Journal of Physics – Springer Journals
Published: May 30, 2018
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