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[en] Results are presented from experimental studies of a magnetron sputtering system for different configurations of the magnetic field above the cathode surface. The current-voltage characteristics of a magnetron discharge at different working gas pressures (0.08-0.3 Pa) and currents in the unbalancing coil were studied. The production and transport of charge carriers in a magnetron discharge with an unbalanced magnetic field was investigated by means of probe measurements of plasma characteristics and ion energies in the region between the substrate and the magnetic trap at the cathode surface. The radial distributions of the ion current density, plasma potential, and floating potential in the unbalanced operating mode are found to have pronounced extrema at the magnetron axis. It is shown that the plasma density near the substrate can be increased considerably when the axial magnetic field is high enough to efficiently confine plasma electrons and prevent their escape to the chamber wall.