plasma source, plasma ion source, ion source, ECR source, atom source, atom beam source, microwave plasma source, plasma, source, microwave ion source, broad beam ion source, RF plasma source, RF source, kaufman ion source, kaufmann ion source, kaufman source, kaufmann source, microwave, ECR, RF
Gen2 logo
Plasma Source: 

introducing the second generation of Atom Sources, Ion Sources and Atom/Ion Hybrid Sources.

Plasma Source, Gen2
tectra Gen2 Plasma Source


Since 1997 tectra has produced more than 50 Plasma Sources as Atom Source, Ion Source and Atom/Ion Hybrid Source. Based on this experience we now present the second generation sources, the Gen2.

New Features of Gen2 Plasma Source:

  • high performance direct microwave coupling (without need of tuning)
  • improved microwave guide with minimised attenuation
  • higher plasma density resulting in higher ion current
  • bakeable magnets, still on air side, with closed cooling loop
  • more compact, space saving air side setup
  • Al2O3 plasma cup now standard with higher yield of secondary electrons and better resistance against aggressive gases
  • additional display of extraction current to optimise the beam shape
  • improved stability of microwave generation
  • new grid supply for more versatile, wide range ion energies of 20eV - 2keV with same grid set 
  • LED to show if plasma is on or off

  pdf version of data sheet (206kB)

Plasma Source

Atom Source, Ion Source and Atom/Ion Hybrid Source

The tectra Plasma Source* is a multi-purpose source which can easily be user configured to produce either atoms or ions and finds uses in a wide range of HV and UHV applications. By easy exchange of the beam optics the source can be configured to operate in several distinct modes. The main modes are Atom Source, Ion Source and Atom/Ion Hybrid Source. Besides delivering different species (atoms, ions, radicals) the Plasma Source covers the complete energy range from neutral thermal atoms to above 1.500eV. The shape of the beam and current densities can be altered by using different beam optics.

A plasma is created in a coaxial waveguide by evanescent wave coupling of microwave energy at 2.45GHz.  The plasma is further enhanced by the ECR action of a quadrupole magnetic field producing an extensive surface in the plasma on which electron cyclotron resonance at the given microwave frequency takes place.

Plasma Source + Power Supplies
tectra Plasma Source + Power Supplies
(new pictures coming soon)

Key Features:
  • Filamentless 
Suitable for use with most gases including reactive gases such as oxygen, chlorine, hydrogen, nitrogen etc.
  • No microwave tuning  
Factory set. Simply turn the plasma on and off.
  • User configurable  
The extraction optics are designed to be quickly and easily exchanged allowing users to customise their source to suit a particular combination of sample size, working pressure and current density. Easily exchanged apertures enable beam diameter, gas load and atom flux to be optimised.
  • simple bakeout preparation
new bakeable ECR magnets allow simple bekeout preparation by just undoing 4 screws. The magnets are still on the air side on a closed cooling loop. Hence no sintered material is in-vacuum.
  • Al2O3 plasma region
Alumina plasma cup as standard with higher yield of secondary electrons and better resistance against aggressive gases such as Oxygen
  • compact
the air side envilope sizes are brought to a minimum of just 258mm from flange (knife edge side) to case end (see schematic)

Integration of the robust microwave generator and the ion source, mean that no tuning of the source is required and there is no waveguide to construct or install.

Due to the evanescent wave coupling, no electrodes are present in the plasma i.e. no filaments or other metal.  The plasma is entirely surrounded by alumina or other dielectric materials e.g. BN. Therefore the source is also suitable for use with reactive gases such as oxygen and hydrogen. A selection of apertures and conductances allows the optimum balance between gas flow, working pressure and beam current to be achieved.

The source is designed as a true UHV source making it suitable for use in UHV applications such as MBE as well as sputtering and other HV processes. Stainless steel, OFHC copper, BN, alumina and Kapton are the only materials exposed to the vacuum. All joints are welded. The magnets and all microwave parts are easily removed for bakeout at temperatures in excess of 200C. 

Modes of operation:

Four distinct modes of operation are possible with this source depending principally on the beam optics which are fitted. The beam optics are constructed as one piece and may easily be exchanged by the user to allow the source to be used in another mode. The parts necessary to convert the source from one mode to another are all retrofittable by the user and can be added at any time in the future as research needs change.

(1) Atom source
The specially designed aperture plate inhibits ions from escaping from the plasma, yet allows reactive neutrals to escape and form the dominant beam fraction. The emitted particles are largely thermalised through multiple collisions on passing through the aperture.  These neutrals have proven to be very effective in low damage surface treatments such as nitridation and oxidation(1,2). The further addition of an ion-trap option can completely remove the residual ion content from the beam where this may be of concern.

(2) Downstream plasma source
With this aperture plate a larger proportion of the charged particles in the plasma are allowed to escape. There is no active extraction or acceleration of the charged particles but a considerably higher ion current reaches the sample in this mode as compared with the atom source above. Samples mounted a few centimetres from the source are said to be  “downstream” of the ion source and away from the most energetic species. Ion energies are defined by the intrinsic plasma potential and are around 25eV.

(3) Hybrid source
The beam optics in this mode combine the atom source aperture plate with electrodes providing active extraction of ions from the plasma. With no voltage applied to the electrodes the source functions like the atom source at (1) above.  With voltage applied to the electrodes, ions with controllable energy can be added to the atom beam. Total beam current is in the ~50A range.  Using this mode the advantages of both a low kinetic energy, chemically reactive, atom beam and a much higher kinetic energy, highly anisotropic ion beam may be explored.

(4) Broad Beam Ion Source
Dual or triple high conductance grid electrodes are used to produce the broad beam ion source mode.  For sputtering applications, current densities at ~120mm of 2mA/cm (focused optics) with ion energies of 1.3keV can be obtained while for deposition assistance (Ion Assisted Deposition or Dual Ion Beam Sputtering) the beam energy can be reduced to less than 100eV with current densities still in the 0.05mA/cm range.

Atom Source Mode Applications:

  • Nitriding e.g. GaN, AlN, GaAsN, SiN etc. 
  • Hydrogen cleaning, hydrogen assisted MBE. 
  • Oxidation e.g. ZnO, Superconductors, Optical coatings, Dielectrics. 
  • Doping e.g. ZnSe 

Ion Beam Mode Applications:

  • Ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) for both UHV and HV processes 
  • Sputter deposition and dual ion beam sputtering 
  • Sputter cleaning / surface preparation in surface science, MBE and HV sputter processes. 
  • In-situ etching e.g. Chlorine 

Plasma Source schematic


a) General
Vacuum compatibility:  Fully UHV compatible
Bakeable: >200C
Microwave power: 250W max at 2.45GHz
Magnet type: Permanent rare-earth.  Removeable for bakeout without breaking vacuum
Mounting: NW63CF (4.5"OD)
In vacuum length: 300mm (custom lengths possible):  In vacuum diameter max = 57mm
Beam diameter: ~25mm at source (narrower beams also easily produced)
Plasma cup: Alumina
Aperture: Alumina or Boron Nitride 
Gas flow rate: 0.01-100sccm depending on aperture selected
Working pressure: ~10-7 Torr to 5x10-3  Torr depending on aperture, pump and application - please contact tectra to discuss your application.  Differential pumping option available
Working Distance: 50mm-300mm.  150mm typical
Cooling: Fully water-cooled (including magnetron)
Power supplies:
Grid supply*
* Ion and Hybrid Source only

19” rack mount.  3U height. 230VAC, 50Hz  or  115VAC, 60Hz
19” rack mount.  3U height.  230VAC, 50Hz  or  115VAC, 60Hz

b) Atom source
Atom flux >2x1016 atoms/cm2/s at 10cm 
Beam divergence: ~ 15 half-angle typical
Gases Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen (any most other non-condensible gases)
Working pressure: 1x10-8 mabr to 1x10-1 mbar  typical (using 500l/s pump) and depending on selected grids, pump, optional differential pumping and gases. 
Working distance: <50mm to >300mm (150mm typical)
Options: (1) Residual Ion Trap
(2) Differential pumping
(3) Ion source retrofit kit
(4) Plasma igniter

c) Ion source
Ion current: 0 - 20mA (max.).  Total beam current measured at 15cm
Ion current density: >2mA/cm2 at 1.3keV and >0.05mA/cm2 at <100eV at 120mm distance.
Ion energy: 25eV - 2000eV
Beam diameter: ~25mm at source (narrower beams down to 1mm also easily produced)
Extraction grids: Molybdenum (Graphite optionally)
Focused and collimated beam grid sets available
Gas flow rate: 5-10sccm typical (lower and higher flow ratespossible)
Working pressure: 1x10-8 mabr to 1x10-1 mbar  typical (using 500l/s pump) and depending on selected grids, pump, optional differential pumping and gases. 
Working distance: <50mm to >300mm (150mm typical)
Options: (1) Immersed filament beam neutralisation
(2) Plane, focused and divergent grid sets made from molybdenum or pyrolytic graphite
(3) Differential pumping
(4) Shutter
(5) Faraday Cup integrated in shutter



Plasma Source with differential pumping for low pressure operation
Plasma Source with differential pumping
for low pressure operation and with shutter


Plasma Source with differential pumping for high pressure operation

Plasma Source with differential pumping for high pressure operation

Plasma Source with differential pumping
for high pressure operation


special Atom aperture for reduced flux/small samples

special Atom aperture for reduced flux/small samples

Atom aperture with quartz collimator tube

Atom aperture with quartz collimator tube
special Atom aperture for reduced flux/small samples

elongated version with second gas inlet

Elongated version with second gas inlet


  1. The role of neutral oxygen radicals in the oxidation of Ag films.  A. A. Schmidt, J. Offermann and R. Anton.  Thin Solid Films 281-282 (1996) 105-107. 
  2. Design and performance of a versatile cost-effective microwave ECR plasma source for surface and thin film processing. R.Anton, T. Wiegner, W. Naumann, M. Liebmann, C. Klein, C. Bradley. Rev.Sci.Instr. Feb 2000 

tectra GmbH reserves the right to alter specifications without notice.

Application Note

*developed in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Anton, University of Hamburg, Inst. fuer Angewandte Physik


contact: tectra GmbH 
Reuterweg 65 
D-60323 Frankfurt/M. 
Tel: Germany (+49) (0) 69 - 72 00 40 
Fax: Germany (+49) (0) 69 - 72 04 00 

Contact Home Products

last modified 16.11.03