Implications of electron heating and non-uniformities in a VHF-CCP for sterilization of medical instruments

Katharina Stapelmann, Marcel Fiebrandt, Tim Styrnoll, Sabrina Baldus, Nikita Bibinov, Peter Awakowicz


A capacitively coupled plasma driven at a frequency of 81.36 MHz from the VHF-band is investigated by means of optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and multipole resonance probe (MRP). The discharge is operated with hydrogen, yielding an electropositive discharge, as well as oxygen, yielding an electronegative discharge, and mixtures of both. Pressure is varied from p = 5 Pa to p = 25 Pa. Homogeneity of the discharge is investigated by CCD camera recordings as well as spatially resolved multipole resonance probe measurements. The results indicate the presence of electromagnetic edge effects as well as standing wave effects. Furthermore, a largely homogeneous discharge can be achieved with hydrogen as process gas at a pressure of p = 5-10 Pa. With increasing pressure as well as with increasing oxygen content, the discharge appears less homogeneously. The transition from an electropositive to an electronegative discharge leads to a change in electron heating mechanisms, with pronounced local maxima of electron density at the sheath edges. A comparison of OES and MRP results reveal a significant difference in electron density, which can be explained by a non-Maxwellian distribution function of electrons.