Scattering of magnetized electrons at the boundary of low temperature plasmas

Dennis Krüger, Jan Trieschmann, Ralf Peter Brinkmann

Plasma Sources Science and Technology 27, 025011 (2018)


Magnetized technological plasmas with magnetic fields of 10–200 mT, plasma densities of 1017−1019 m−3, gas pressures of less than 1 Pa, and electron energies from a few to (at most) a few hundred electron volts are characterized by electron Larmor radii r L, that are small compared to all other length scales of the system, including the spatial scale L of the magnetic field and the collisional mean free path λ. In this regime, the classical drift approximation applies. In the boundary sheath of these discharges, however, that approximation breaks down: The sheath penetration depth of electrons (a few to some ten Debye length λ D; depending on the kinetic energy; typically much smaller than the sheath thickness of tens/hundreds of λ D) is even smaller than r L. For a model description of the electron dynamics, an appropriate boundary condition for the plasma/sheath interface is required. To develop such, the interaction of magnetized electrons with the boundary sheath is investigated using a 3D kinetic single electron model that sets the larger scales L and λ to infinity, i.e. neglects magnetic field gradients, the electric field in the bulk, and collisions. A detailed comparison of the interaction for a Bohm sheath (which assumes a finite Debye length) and a hard wall model (representing the limit ${lambda }_{{rm{D}}}to 0;$ also called the specular reflection model) is conducted. Both models are found to be in remarkable agreement with respect to the sheath-induced drift. It is concluded that the assumption of specular reflection can be used as a valid boundary condition for more realistic kinetic models of magnetized technological plasmas.


tags: HiPIMS, Magnetized-Low-Temperature-Plasmas, Magnetron