A study of ultra-thin film ion beam deposited (IBD) hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C : H) using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

RW Lamberton, JF Zhao, D Magill, JAD McLaughlin, PD Maguire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The growing importance of ultra-thin DLC as applied to overcoats for magnetic recording head/slider assemblies for hard disk drive systems requires an in-depth understanding of the fundamental mechanisms occurring during growth. With this aim a characterisation study of ultra-thin film (< 100 nm) hydrocarbon ion beam deposited (IBD) hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H) has been undertaken. Deposition was carried out onto argon cleaned (100) p-type silicon and Al2O3-TiC (70:30 wt%), the latter of which is commonly employed as a substrate for magnetic recording head/slider fabrication. AFM analysis of 10 nm a-C:H deposited using an energy of 200 eV per carbon atom has identified the generation of surface morphology on silicon during growth that is not observed during a-C:H growth on Al2O3-TiC deposited at the same time. TEM analysis of a similar a-C:H film on silicon suggests that the observed features are nanocrystallites (similar to 75 nm) embedded in a two-phase matrix containing nanocrystalline (< 5 nm) graphite. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science S.A.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1058
JournalDiamond and Related Materials
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998



  • ultra-thin film DLC
  • magnetic recording head
  • TEM
  • AFM

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