The total ion flux and nitriding rate for stainless steel specimens exposed to a modulated electron beam generated argon-nitrogen plasma were measured as a function of distance from the electron beam axis. The total ion flux decreased linearly with distance, but the nitriding rate increased under certain conditions, contrary to other ion flux/nitriding rate comparisons published in the literature. Variation in ion flux composition with distance was explored with a mass spectrometer and energy analyzer as a possible explanation for the anomalous nitriding rate response to ion flux magnitude. A transition in ion flux composition from mostly N2 1 to predominantly N1 ions with increasing distance was observed. Significant differences in molecular and atomic nitrogen ion energy distributions at a negatively biased electrode were also measured. An explanation for nitriding rate dependence based on flux composition and magnitude is proposed.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christopher-muratore/24/