Numerical modeling of an RF argon-silane plasma with dust particle nucleation and growth

Pulkit Agarwal, Steven L. Girshick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


A one-dimensional numerical model and simulation results are presented for a capacitively-coupled radio frequency parallel-plate argon-silane dusty plasma. The model includes self-consistently coupled numerical modules, including a plasma fluid model, a sectional aerosol model, and a simple chemistry model to predict rates of particle nucleation and surface growth. Operating conditions considered include 13.56 MHz frequency, 100 mTorr pressure, a 4-cm electrode gap, gas flow through the top electrode with a 30:1 ratio of argon to silane, and applied radio frequency voltage amplitude of either 100 or 250 V. In the higher voltage case two lobes of relatively large particles are formed by ion drag, while fresh nucleation occurs in the void between these lobes. It is shown that the reason that fresh nucleation occurs in the void involves an interplay among several coupled phenomena, including nanoparticle transport, the plasma potential profile, and trapping of silicon hydride anions that drive nucleation in this system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-503
Number of pages15
JournalPlasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was partially supported by the US National Science Foundation (Grant CHE-1124752), US Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Science (Grant DE-SC0001939), and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI). Helpful discussions with Dr. David Porter of MSI are gratefully acknowledged.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Dusty plasmas
  • Nanoparticles
  • Silane


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