Phase Transitions in a Dusty Plasma with Two Distinct Particle Sizes
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In semiconductor manufacturing, contamination due to particulates significantly decreases the yield and quality of device fabrication, therefore increasing the cost of production. Dust particle clouds can be found in almost all plasma processing environments including both plasma etching devices and in plasma deposition processes. Dust particles suspended within such plasmas will acquire an electric charge from collisions with electrons and ions in the plasma. If the ratio of inter-particle potential energy to the average kinetic energy is sufficient, the particles will form either a “liquid” structure with short-range ordering or a crystalline structure with long-range ordering. Many experiments have been conducted over the past decade on such colloidal plasmas to discover the character of the systems formed, but more work is needed to fully understand these structures. The preponderance of previous experiments used monodisperse spheres to form complex plasma systems. However, most plasma processing environments contain more arbitrary distributions of particle size. In order to examine in more detail the effects of a size distribution, experiments were carried out in a GEC rf reference cell modified for use as a dusty plasma system. Using two monodisperse particle sizes, experiments were conducted to determine the manner in which phase transitions and other thermodynamic properties depended upon the overall dust grain size distribution. Plasma crystals were formed from different mixtures of 8.89 and 6.50 μm monodisperse particles in argon plasma. With the use of various optical techniques, the pair correlation function was determined at different pressures and powers and then compared to measurements obtained for monodisperse spheres.