We developed a new nanocluster (NC) ion source based on the high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) technique coupled with a gas flow cell reactor. Silver NC anions (Agn-) with a maximum intensity of 5.5 nA (Ag11-) are generated with the size ranging from the atomic anion to the 70-mer, which is well-controlled by simply adjusting the peak power and repetition rate of the HiPIMS. By time-resolved density profiles of Agn-, we find that the ion beam generated by HiPIMS is characterized by individual 100 ms duration "bunches" below a repetition rate of 10 Hz, which is well-Thermalized with a group velocity of 5 m/s. The high intensity of the NCs is attributable to the high ionization fraction by this HiPIMS ion source, while the underlying mechanism of the flexible size tuning of the ion source is understood by time-resolved mass spectrometry coupled with the sequential growth mechanism; the increment of the density of the target species in the bunches with the peak power and the overlapping of the bunches with the repetition rate cause the formation of large NCs.
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