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Atmospheric Pressure Micro Plasma Discharge



The miniaturization of plasma discharges have been studied for the development of novel applications, such as plasma display panels, materials processing and analytical instrumentation. In such applications, the plasma discharge is generally maintained at a low pressure. However, operating the plasma in low pressure has several drawbacks, which include expensive vacuum systems and high maintenance cost of such systems. There is growing interest in plasma processing techniques optimized for atmospheric pressure applications, due to their significant advantages from an operational point of view. At atmospheric pressure, thin film deposition at very high rates is possible, and cost intensive vacuum technology can be avoided. Many approaches have been proposed in recent years to overcome the problems of generating and sustaining stable, uniform and homogeneous non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasma.

The main approach to generate a micro discharge in atmospheric pressure is based on the Paschen law (pressure x electrode separation distance = const). This suggests that in order to ignite a plasma at atmospheric pressure the inter electrode gap width dimensions has to be scaled down in the micrometer range. Recent research in our group has shown that micro-plasmas can be used to perform materials processing at atmospheric pressure without some of the problems associated with dielectric barrier and corona discharges. Our research has also shown that DC micro plasma discharge operates in the “normal” glow mode at atmospheric and higher pressure. At atmospheric pressure reaction rates are higher and processes can occur more rapidly. The key to having an atmospheric pressure micro-plasma that can be used for plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) is to provide conditions, which maintain the non-equilibrium state. Non-thermal plasma is required because in PECVD excited and reactive species formed from the precursors are desired. Thermal plasma would result in near complete dissociation of precursors and excessive heating of the substrate.

Self Pulsing DC Driven High Density Non-thermal Microplasma at High Pressure



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