Synthesis of hydrogenated diamondlike carbon thin films using neon-acetylene based high power impulse magnetron sputtering discharges

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  • Asim Aijaz, Linkoping University, Uppsala University
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  • Sascha Louring, Danish Technol Inst, Tribol Ctr
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  • Daniel Lundin, Université Paris Sud
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  • Tomas Kubart, Uppsala University
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  • Jens Jensen, Linkoping University
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  • Kostas Sarakinos, Linkoping University
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  • Ulf Helmersson, Linkoping University

Hydrogenated diamondlike carbon (DLC:H) thin films exhibit many interesting properties that can be tailored by controlling the composition and energy of the vapor fluxes used for their synthesis. This control can be facilitated by high electron density and/or high electron temperature plasmas that allow one to effectively tune the gas and surface chemistry during film growth, as well as the degree of ionization of the film forming species. The authors have recently demonstrated by adding Ne in an Ar-C high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge that electron temperatures can be effectively increased to substantially ionize C species [Aijaz et al., Diamond Relat. Mater. 23, 1 (2012)]. The authors also developed an Ar-C2H2 HiPIMS process in which the high electron densities provided by the HiPIMS operation mode enhance gas phase dissociation reactions enabling control of the plasma and growth chemistry [Aijaz et al., Diamond Relat. Mater. 44, 117 (2014)]. Seeking to further enhance electron temperature and thereby promote electron impact induced interactions, control plasma chemical reaction pathways, and tune the resulting film properties, in this work, the authors synthesize DLC: H thin films by admixing Ne in a HiPIMS based Ar/C2H2 discharge. The authors investigate the plasma properties and discharge characteristics by measuring electron energy distributions as well as by studying discharge current characteristics showing an electron temperature enhancement in C2H2 based discharges and the role of ionic contribution to the film growth. These discharge conditions allow for the growth of thick (>1 mu m) DLC: H thin films exhibiting low compressive stresses (similar to 0.5 GPa), high hardness (similar to 25 GPa), low H content (similar to 11%), and density in the order of 2.2 g/cm(3). The authors also show that film densification and change of mechanical properties are related to H removal by ion bombardment rather than subplantation. (C) 2016 American Vacuum Society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061504
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science & Technology. A: International Journal Devoted to Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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