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The growth and microstructure evolution of carbon nitride CNx (0≤x≤0.35) films, deposited by reactive d.c. magnetron sputtering in Ar/N2 discharges has been studied. The substrate temperature TS varied between 100 and 550°C, and the N2 fraction in the discharge gas varied from 0 to 100%. It is found that the deposition rate and film morphology show strong dependence on TS and nitrogen fraction. For growth temperature of 100°C, the films are amorphous, and essentially unaffected by the nitrogen fraction. For TS>200°C, however, the nitrogen fraction has more significant effect on the growth and structural evolution of the films. The pure carbon films appear porous and have a high surface roughness. For increasing nitrogen fraction the films become denser and the roughness decreases by one order of magnitude. It is suggested that a chemical sputtering process, during which desorption of volatile N2 and CN-species, predominantly C2N2, is important not only for the deposition rate and the nitrogen incorporation, but also for the resulting film structure. The chemical sputtering process becomes more pronounced at elevated temperatures with higher nitrogen fractions.


Originally published as: Hellgren, N. “Effect of Chemical Sputtering on the Growth and Structural Evolution of Magnetron Sputtered CNx Thin Films.” Thin Solid Films 382, no. 1–2 (February 1, 2001): 146–52.

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