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Filtered pulsed carbon cathodic arc: Plasma and amorphous carbon properties

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6 Author(s)
Liu, Dongping ; Electrical Engineering Department, University of Applied Sciences Deggendorf, Deggendorf 94469, Germany ; Benstetter, Gunther ; Lodermeier, Edgar ; Jialiang Zhang
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The carbon plasma ion energies produced by the filtered pulsed cathodic arc discharge method were measured as a function of filter inductance. The energy determination is based on the electro-optical time-of-flight method. The average ion energies of the pulsed ion beams were found to depend upon the rise time and duration of pulsed arc currents, which suggests that a gain of ion kinetic energy mainly arises from the electric plasma field from the ambipolar expansion of both electrons and ions, and an electron drag force because of the high expansion velocity of the electrons. The tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) films with a sp3 fraction of ∼70% were deposited on silicon substrates at the average ion energies of ≫6 eV in the highly ionized plasmas. The ta-C films were found to be covered with a few graphitelike atomic layers. The surface properties of ultrathin carbon films, such as nanoscale friction coefficients, surface layer thickness, and silicon contents were strongly dependent on the ion energies. The growth of amorphous carbon films was explained in terms of the thermal spike migration of surface carbon atoms. In terms of this model, the thermal spike provides the energy required to release surface atoms from their metastable positions and leads to the formation of the sp3 bonded carbon on a sp3 bonded matrix. The experimental results indicate that the low-energy (≪3 eV) carbon ions have insufficient energies to cause the rearrangement reaction within the film and they form graphitelike structures at film surface. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.

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Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:95 ,  Issue: 12 )