Equilibrium and relaxation of particulate charge in fluorocarbon plasmas
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Charging of micron-size particulates, often appearing in fluorocarbon plasma etching experiments, is considered. It is shown that in inductively coupled and microwave slot-excited plasmas of C4F8 and Ar gas mixtures, the equilibrium particle charge and charge relaxation processes are controlled by a combination of microscopic electron, atomic (Ar+ and F+), and molecular ion (CF3+, CF2+, and CF+) currents. The impact of molecular ion currents on the particulate charging and charge relaxation processes is analyzed. It is revealed that in low-power (<0.5 kW) microwave slot-excited plasmas, the impact of the combined molecular ion current to the total positive microscopic current on the particle can be as high as 40%. The particulate charge relaxation rate in fluorocarbon plasmas appears to exceed 108 s−1, which is almost one order of magnitude higher than that from purely argon plasmas. This can be attributed to the impact of positive currents of fluorocarbon molecular ions, as well as to the electron density fluctuations with particle charge, associated with electron capture and release by the particulates.