Pulsed power to control growth of silicon nanoparticles in low temperature flowing plasmas

Steven J. Lanham, Jordyn Polito, Zichang Xiong, Uwe R. Kortshagen, Mark J. Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low-temperature plasmas have seen increasing use for synthesizing high-quality, mono-disperse nanoparticles (NPs). Recent work has highlighted that an important process in NP growth in plasmas is particle trapping - small, negatively charged nanoparticles become trapped by the positive electrostatic potential in the plasma, even if only momentarily charged. In this article, results are discussed from a computational investigation into how pulsing the power applied to an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) reactor may be used for controlling the size of NPs synthesized in the plasma. The model system is an ICP at 1 Torr to grow silicon NPs from an Ar/SiH4 gas mixture. This system was simulated using a two-dimensional plasma hydrodynamics model coupled to a three-dimensional kinetic NP growth and trajectory tracking model. The effects of pulse frequency and pulse duty cycle are discussed. We identified separate regimes of pulsing where particles become trapped for one pulsed cycle, a few cycles, and many cycles - each having noticeable effects on particle size distributions. For the same average power, pulsing can produce a stronger trapping potential for particles when compared to continuous wave power, potentially increasing particle mono-dispersity. Pulsing may also offer a larger degree of control over particle size for the same average power. Experimental confirmation of predicted trends is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number073301
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 21 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Army Research Office MURI under Grant No. W911NF-18-1-0240, the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Nos. IIP-1747739 and PHY-2009219), and the Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Science (No. DE-SC0020232).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Author(s).


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