Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Measuring the Ion Current in High-Density Plasmas Using Radio-Frequency Current and Voltage Measurements



Mark A. Sobolewski


The total current or flux of ions striking the substrate is an important parameter that must be tightly controlled during plasma processing. Several methods have recently been proposed for monitoring the ion current in situ. These methods rely on passive, noninvasive measurements of the radio frequency (rf) current and voltage signals that are generated by plasma-processing equipment, interpreted by electrical models of the plasma discharge. Here, a rigorous and comprehensive test of such methods was performed for high-density discharges in argon at 1.33 Pa (10 mTorr) in an inductively-coupled plasma reactor, at inductive source powers of 60-350 W, rf bias powers up to 150 W, and rf bias frequencies of 0.1-10 MHz. Model-based methods were tested by comparison to direct, independent measurements of the ion current at the substrate electrode made using lower frequency rf bias and modulated rf bias. Errors in two model-based methods are identified and explained by effects that are present in the high-density plasmas but are not included in the models. A third method, based on a new, more accurate numerical sheath model, gives values of the ion current in agreement with the independent measurements.
Journal of Applied Physics
No. 6


discharge, electrical measurements, high-density, inductively coupled, ion current, plasma, process monitoring, radio-frequency, sheath


Sobolewski, M. (2001), Measuring the Ion Current in High-Density Plasmas Using Radio-Frequency Current and Voltage Measurements, Journal of Applied Physics (Accessed July 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created September 1, 2001, Updated February 19, 2017