Considering the complexity of the general plasma techniques, pure single CH3+ ion beams were selected for the deposition of hydrogenated amorphous (a) carbon films with various ion energies and temperatures. Photoluminescence (PL) measurements have been performed on the films and violet/blue emission has been observed. The violet/blue emission is attributed to the small size distribution of sp2 clusters and is related to the intrinsic properties of CH3 terminals, which lead to a very high barrier for the photoexcited electrons. Ion bombardment plays an important role in the PL behavior. This would provide further insight into the growth dynamics of a-C:H films. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.