A study of plasma source ion implantation.
The work described in this thesis is an analysis of the Plasma Source Ion Implantation (PSII) process. A metal target is placed within a plasma, and pulsed to a high negative potential (10 - 50 kV). The electrons in the plasma close to the target are then repelled very rapidly, leaving an area of uniform positive charge. This causes an electric field to be set up between the plasma and the metal target. The ions close to the target are then accelerated towards the target by the electric field. The ions reach the target at high velocities, and implant deeply into the metal (-5 x 10-8 m), and form nitrides, which pin dislocations within the metal's atomic structure. The strength of the metal is therefore increased, and other properties such as the corrosion resistance of the metal are also improved. Metals that have undergone the PSII process have widely diverse applications. For example, in the motor industry, ion implanted metal punches last much longer than nitrided punches, while in the medical industry ion implanted metals are used for artificial limbs. A combination of a number of different analytic, numerical and simulation models are used to describe the PSII process, including the plasma behaviour and final nitrogen implantation profile in the metal target after the application of the voltage pulse. In all cases, a specific attempt has been made to realistically describe as closely as possible, the actual experimental arrangement at the University of Natal. For example: a waveform with a fast rise time, short plateau and exponential decay was used; the nitrogen plasma was more realistically described by a two species fluid to account for the measured N+, N; mix; and finally, the actual atomic composition for 304 stainless steel was used in the TAMIX particle simulation. This work thus models the whole PSII process, and could form the basis of future studies for the optimisation of the process.