Anisotropies in magnetron sputtered carbon nitride thin films

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Carbon nitride CNx (O≤x≤0.35) thin films, deposited by reactive dc magnetron sputtering in Ar/N2 discharges have been studied with respect to microstructure using electron microscopy, and elastic modulus using nanoindentation and surface acoustic wave analyses. For growth temperature of 100°C, the films were amorphous, and with an isotropic Young's modulus of ∼170-200 GPa essentially unaffected by the nitrogen fraction. The films grown at elevated temperatures (350-550°C) show anisotropic mechanical properties due to a textured microstructure with standing basal planes, as observed from measuring the Young's modulus in different directions. The modulus measured in the plane of the film was ∼60-80 GPa, while in the vertical direction the modulus increased considerably from ∼25 to ∼200 GPa as the nitrogen content was increased above ∼15 at. %. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.

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