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Amorphous hydrogenated carbon films (a-C:H) are usually deposited in low-temperature plasmas from a hydrocarbon precursor gas. Depending on process parameters, film properties range from polymer-like and soft films to hard and wear resistant coatings. Despite the great importance of this material for a wide range of applications, detailed knowledge on elementary mechanisms of film formation at the plasma-surface boundary is still lacking.

One approach to isolate and to quantify individual growth mechanisms is to study selected surface processes in quantified radical-beam experiments. In recent years, such an experiment employing radical sources for atomic hydrogen (H) and methyl radicals (CH(3)) has been developed in our group. The interaction of these species with a-C:H films is monitored in real time by ellipsometry and infrared spectroscopy.

Based on a modelling of the experimental results using a set of rate equations, a cross-section between 2.4 and 5.4 Ų for CH(3) chemisorption at a dangling bond and a cross-section of about 10³ Ų for abstraction of surface bonded hydrogen by CH(3) are determined. The consequences of these results for the understanding of film formation in low-temperature plasmas are discussed. ed.

Additional information

Authors: VON KEUDELL A, Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP-EURATOM Association, Garching (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: An article published in: Thin Solid Films, 402 (2002), pp.1-37
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