National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

U.S. Patent Awarded for Very Large Area/Volume Microwave Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) Plasma and Ion Source

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U.S. Patent 7,493,869 “Very Large Area/Volume Microwave Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) Plasma and Ion Source” was awarded to Michael J. Patterson (Power and In-Space Propulsion Division) and Dr. John E. Foster, Associate Professor Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department, University of Michigan (formerly of NASA GRC) on February 24, 2009. The invention is an apparatus and method for producing very large area and large volume plasmas.

The invention utilizes electron cyclotron resonances in conjunction with permanent magnets to produce dense, uniform plasmas for long life ion thruster applications or for plasma processing applications such as etching, deposition, ion milling and ion implantation. The large area source is at least five times larger than the 12-inch wafers being processed to date. Its rectangular shape makes it easier to accommodate to materials processing than sources that are circular in shape. The patent covers 20 claims. This is Mr. Patterson’s 9th patent for cathode and plasma source technology.