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Inductively coupled plasma

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Title: Inductively coupled plasma  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Induction plasma technology, Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Plasma (physics), Peroxide fusion, Helicon (physics)
Collection: Electrodynamics, Ion Source, Plasma Physics, Spectroscopy
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Inductively coupled plasma

Fig. 1. Picture of an analytical ICP torch

An inductively coupled plasma (ICP) is a type of plasma source in which the energy is supplied by electric currents which are produced by electromagnetic induction, that is, by time-varying magnetic fields.[1]


  • Operation 1
  • Applications 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


There are three types of ICP geometries: planar (Fig. 2 (a)), cylindrical[2] (Fig. 2 (b)), and half-toroidal (Fig. 2 (c)).[3]

Fig. 2. Conventional Plasma Inductors

In planar geometry, the electrode is a length of flat metal wound like a spiral (or coil). In cylindrical geometry, it is like a helical spring. In half-toroidal geometry, it is toroidal solenoid cut along its main diameter to two equal halves.

When a time-varying electric current is passed through the coil, it creates a time-varying magnetic field around it, which in turn induces azimuthal electric field in the rarefied gas, leading to the formation of the figure-8 electron trajectories[3] providing a plasma generation (see Hamilton-Jacobi equation in electromagnetic fields). Argon is one example of a commonly used rarefied gas.


Plasma temperatures can range between ~6 000 Kº and ~1000 000 Kº (~1 eV - ~100 eV),[3] comparable to the surface of the sun. ICP discharges are of relatively high electron density, on the order of 1015 cm−3. As a result, ICP discharges have wide applications where a high-density plasma (HDP) is needed.

Another benefit of ICP discharges is that they are relatively free of contamination because the electrodes are completely outside the reaction chamber. By contrast, in a capacitively coupled plasma (CCP), the electrodes are often placed inside the reactor and are thus exposed to the plasma and subsequent reactive chemical species.

See also


  1. ^ A. Montaser and D. W. Golightly, eds. Inductively Coupled Plasmas in Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, VCH Publishers, Inc., New York, 1992.
  2. ^ Pascal Chambert and Nicholas Braithwaite. "“Physics of Radio-Frequency Plasmas”". Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2011). pp. 219–259.  
  3. ^ a b c Shun'ko, Evgeny V.; Stevenson, David E.; Belkin, Veniamin S. (2014). "Inductively Coupling PlasmaReactor With Plasma Electron Energy Controllable in the Range From ~6 to ~100 eV". IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 42 (3): 774–785.  
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