In-situ stress measurement during the deposition of CNx thin films by unbalanced magnetron sputtering; formation of high levels of stress with 28 eV ion irradiation

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Stress development during growth of CNx films by unbalanced magnetron sputtering has been investigated with an in-situ laser deflection technique. The stress is initially tensile, then it becomes compressive, reaching a maximum of as much as 7GPa. These are anomalously high stress levels compared with pure carbon, considering the low ion energies (28 eV) and ion-to-neutral arrival rate ratio (<1) employed. This phenomenon is explained by the formation of a fullerene-like microstructure and nitrogen substitution at the growth surface. An accompanying increased reactivity of carbon atoms promotes sp3 bonding or other cross-linking of curved basal planes with resulting film densification.

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