Traditionally plasma systems have required high operating power, low operating pressure and are relatively large in size, limiting the technology to mostly immobile, large-scale industrial applications. In recent years, microplasma devices have emerged due especially to improvements in microchip fabrication technology. Microplasmas improve on plasma performance, allow for atmospheric operation, permit portability and significantly reduce both the cost of manufacturing and the cost of electrical power. These developments allow for technological improvements in fields such as displays, medicine, alternate energy and chemical analysis. This review will first introduce the concept of man-made plasmas and the distinctive characteristics of microplasmas, then discuss some of the most recent patents of microplasmas with specific regard to devices possessing a microcavity. These patents relate to device types, fabrication improvements and the various applications of microplasma technology.
Keywords: Discharge devices, gas discharge, micro hollow cathode devices, microcavity, microfabrication, microplasma, nanofabrication, plasma
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