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Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stacy Gleixner


Silicon Carbide, Sputter

Subject Areas

Materials Science; Plasma Physics; Engineering


An electrostatic, capacitively coupled Planar Ion Flux (PIF) probe has been developed as a sensor for use in high volume reactive ion etch (RIE) chambers. An important factor in the design is the material used for the probe collection area that is exposed to the plasma. For use in inductively coupled plasma chambers, bulk-deposited, 3C silicon carbide (SiC) was chosen.

The primary objective of this work was to characterize the erosion behavior of the probe tip throughout repeated cycling for 100 RF hours (RFH). Surface morphology, roughness, and composition were documented at the beginning and end of cycling. In addition, the mass of the probe tip was documented three times throughout the experiment. This was used to calculate the wear rate which averaged ~100 μg/RFH. Although physical and chemical mechanisms were evident, it appears that preferential sputtering at pre-existing surface defects had the greatest influence on the erosion behavior.

Additionally, an investigation into the sudden abnormal electrical behavior of the probe yielded the conclusion that the added capacitance of a deposited film reduces the number of data points in the ion saturation region used to fit the experimental data. This results in excessive values for extracted plasma parameters, most notably the electron temperature. However, this is only a temporary condition if the film can be removed.