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Nanoscale properties of amorphous carbon


Research objectives and content
The objective of this project is to understand and quantify the nucleation and first stages of growth of highly Sp3 amorphous carbon films, to find the minimum covering thickness and thereby the ultimate limits of magnetic storage technology, that stongly depend on the properties of the Diamond-like carbon (DLC) overcoat.
The next generation of disks will have flying heights of 20 nm and require continuous coatings under 10 nm and a roughness below 1 nm. DLC is the only suitable material for this purpose, as it is smooth, hard, chemical inert and can form a contiunuous film even for 10 nm layers. in the project DLC will be deposited by three different systems: the filtered cathodic vacuum arc, the plasma beam source and the recently developed electron cyclotron resonance reactor. The DLC nucleation will be studied with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy. In the same time there will be an investigation of the microstructural and tribological properties on both a macroscopic and microscopic scale and use of modelling to determine the wear and friction mechanisms. Consequently the film properties will be related to the growing and deposition parameters and to post deposition treatments.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The project will require a knowledge and the comprehension of the key parameters that determine the nanoscale properties of coating materials. It will also require the ability to use a wide range of deposition, measurement and analytic techniques. These techniques are of general importance as they are widely used in materials research as well as in industry.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
Projects within the group on amorphous carbon are sponsored by Motorola, CRL and Philips.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


University of Cambridge
Trumpington Street
CB2 1PZ Cambridge
United Kingdom