Intrinsic mechanical properties of ultra-thin amorphous carbon layers

P Lemoine, JP Quinn, PD Maguire, JF Zhao, JAD McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we extracted the film's hardness (HF) of ultra-thin diamond-like carbon layers by simultaneously taking into account the tip blunting and the substrate effect. As compared to previous approaches, which did not consider tip blunting, this resulted in marked differences (30-100%) for the H-F value of the thinner carbon coatings. We find that the nature of the substrate influences this intrinsic film parameter and hence the growth mechanisms. Moreover, the H-F values generally increase with film thickness. The 10 nm and 50 nm thick hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H) films deposited onto Si have H-F values of, respectively, similar to 26 GPa and similar to 31 GPa whereas the 10 nm and 50 nm thick tetrahedral amorphous carbon (t-aC) films deposited onto Si have HF values of, respectively, similar to 29 GPa and similar to 38 GPa. Both the a-C:H and t-aC materials also show higher density and refractive index values for the thicker coatings, as measured, respectively by X-ray reflectometry and optical profilometry analysis. However, the Raman analysis of the a-C:H samples show bonding characteristics which are independent of the film thickness. This indicates that in these ultra-thin hydrogenated carbon films, the arrangement of sp(2) clusters does not relate directly to the hardness of the film. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6165-6175
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - May 2007


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