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Very hard (Hv≅26 GPa), uniform and adherent tungsten carbide thin films were obtained by multipulse excimer laser ablation of tungsten targets in methane at (5×10-2–1) Pa pressure. The films were deposited on substrates placed parallel to the target at a distance of 70 mm. Increases in the gas pressure result in an increase of the carbon content in the deposited films accompanied by a decrease of the mean WC crystallite size in the deposited layers. The microhardness of the films shows a nonlinear evolution with the methane fill pressure with a maximum in excess of 26 GPa at p=1×10-1 Pa. © 1999 American Vacuum Society.
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