DOI: 10.1063/5.0174168 ISSN: 1070-664X

Accuracy of the explicit energy-conserving particle-in-cell method for under-resolved simulations of capacitively coupled plasma discharges

A. T. Powis, I. D. Kaganovich
  • Condensed Matter Physics

The traditional explicit electrostatic momentum-conserving particle-in-cell algorithm requires strict resolution of the electron Debye length to deliver numerical stability and accuracy. The explicit electrostatic energy-conserving particle-in-cell algorithm alleviates this constraint with minimal modification to the traditional algorithm, retaining its simplicity, ease of parallelization, and acceleration on modern supercomputing architectures. In this article, we apply the algorithm to model a one-dimensional radio frequency capacitively coupled plasma discharge relevant to industrial applications. The energy-conserving approach closely matches the results from the momentum-conserving algorithm and retains accuracy even for cell sizes up to 8 times the electron Debye length. For even larger cells, the algorithm loses accuracy due to poor resolution of steep gradients within the radio frequency sheath. Accuracy can be recovered by adopting a non-uniform grid, which resolves the sheath and allows for cell sizes up to 32 times the electron Debye length in the quasi-neutral bulk of the discharge. The effect is an up to 8 times reduction in the number of required simulation cells, an improvement that can compound in higher-dimensional simulations. We therefore consider the explicit energy-conserving algorithm as a promising approach to significantly reduce the computational cost of full-scale device simulations and a pathway to delivering kinetic simulation capabilities of use to industry.

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