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Observation of tantalum deposition and growth on TiB2 and ZrB2 from PISCES-RF deuterium and helium plasma exposures

Publication Type
Conference Paper
Journal Name
Nuclear Materials and Energy
Publication Date
Page Number
Conference Name
21st International Conference on Fusion Reactor Materials
Conference Location
Granada, Spain
Conference Sponsor
Centro de Investigaciones, Energeticas Medioambientales y Tecnologicas (CIEMAT)
Conference Date

Deuterium and helium plasma exposures on bulk TiB2 and ZrB2 samples were performed using the PISCES-RF linear plasma device. 40 and 90 eV deuterium ion plasma exposures were performed at 240 and 800 °C sample temperatures, and 80 eV helium ion plasma exposures were performed at 800 °C sample temperatures. Following plasma exposures, it was discovered that two plasma conditions (90 eV deuterium and 80 eV helium at 800 °C) resulted in thick (>200 nm) tantalum-rich (>10 at%) surface features on the targets, presumably from tantalum sourced from a tantalum adapter mask or cap used as part of the target holder. This work aims to characterize these tantalum-rich features and examine the mechanisms of impurity deposition.

Plasma-induced surface morphology of the tantalum-rich surface layers depends on plasma properties and target temperature and chemistry. Greater titanium sputtering compared to zirconium resulted in more distinct surface features in the TiB2 samples compared to the ZrB2 samples via increased, prompt deposition onto tantalum surface impurities. There is still uncertainty as to why thick tantalum deposition only occurred under some plasma exposure conditions but not others; it is likely due to tantalum sputtering by a combination of boron molecules from the targets and carbon-impurities in the tantalum mask or targets. Impurity driven surface features are a well-documented phenomena in samples exposed to plasma from linear plasma device facilities—this work confirms the occurrence of this and emphasizes the need for chemistry characterization of isolated post-mortem surface features in plasma-exposed samples.