PLASMA SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, vol.9, no.3, pp.280-283, 2007 (SCI-Expanded)
The thermionic vacuum arc (TVA) is a new type of plasma source, which generates a pure metal and ceramic vapour plasma containing ions with a directed energy. TVA discharges can be ignited in high vacuum conditions between a heated cathode (electron gun) and an anode (tungsten crucible) containing the material. The accelerated electron beam, incident on the anode, heats the crucible, together with its contents, to a high temperature. After establishing a steady-state density of the evaporating anode material atoms, and when the voltage applied is high enough, a bright discharge is ignited between the electrodes. We generated silver and Al2O3 TVA discharges in order to compare the metal and ceramic TVA discharges. The electrical and optical characteristics of silver and Al2O3 TVA discharges were analysed. The TVA is also a new technique for the deposition of thin films. The. film condenses on the sample from the plasma state of the vapour phase of the anode material, generated by a TVA. We deposited silver and Al2O3 thin films onto an aluminium substrate layer-by-layer using their TVA discharges, and produced micro and/or nano-layer Ag-Al2O3 composite samples. The composite samples using scanning electron microscopy was also analysed.