Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms

Low energy ion assisted carbon film growth: Methods and mechanisms

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Hydrogen-free amorphous carbon films (a-C) prepared by different ion assisted methods (i) ion assisted evaporation (IAE), (ii) unbalanced magnetron sputtering (MS), (iii) mass separated ion beam deposition (MSIBD) and (iv) filtered vacuum cathodic arc evaporation (VA) in the optimum energy range of about 100 eV were compared. Density data, Raman spectra and surface topography images show a different behaviour of the films. The different growth processes were discussed in connection with results from ion implantation experiments into IAE a-C and computer calculations of the ion-solid interactions by use of the TRIM-code. Self-interstitials in the sub-surface region of the carbon matrix created due to pure carbon ion beam bombardment (MSIBD and VA) are the key for the understanding of the densification process. The lower number of self-interstitials created during the noble-gas ion assisted processes can be compensated by extremely high argon-ion to carbon-neutral arrival ratios in the case of MS. Furthermore, the sputtered carbon atoms with energies in the range of a few eV should assist this deposition process. Without energetic carbon particles (thermal carbon atoms from the evaporation process) as in the case of neon ion assisted evaporation, it is also possible to prepare dense a-C, however with lower density (2.7 g/cm3).