Thermal stability of carbon nitride thin films

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The thermal stability of carbon nitride films, deposited by reactive direct current magnetron sputtering in N2 discharge, was studied for postdeposition annealing temperatures TA up to 1000 °C. Films were grown at temperatures of 100 °C (amorphous structure) and 350 and 550 °C (fullerenelike structure) and were analyzed with respect to thickness, composition, microstructure, bonding structure, and mechanical properties as a function of TA and annealing time. All properties investigated were found to be stable for annealing up to 300 °C for long times (ξ48 h). For higher TA, nitrogen is lost from the films and graphitization takes place. At TA = 500 °C the graphitization process takes up to 48 h while at TA = 900 °C it takes less than 2 min. A comparison on the evolution of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and Raman spectra during annealing shows that for TA ξ 800 °C, preferentially pyridinelike N and -C≡N is lost from the films, mainly in the form of molecular N2 and C2N2, while N substituted in graphite is preserved the longest in the structure. Films deposited at the higher temperature exhibit better thermal stability, but annealing at temperatures a few hundred degrees Celsius above the deposition temperature for long times is always detrimental for the mechanical properties of the films. © 2001 Materials Research Society.


Originally published as:

Li, J. J., Zheng, W. T., Jin, Z. S., Gai, T. X., Gu, G. R., Bian, H. J., & Hu, C. Q. (2003). Thermal stability of magnetron sputtering amorphous carbon nitride films. Vacuum, 72(3), 233–239. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0042-207X(03)00146-5