On the properties of nanocomposite amorphous carbon films prepared by off-plane double bend filtered cathodic vacuum arc

B. K. Tay*, P. Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


It is known to deposit hard thin films, such as tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C), using a filtered cathode vacuum arc (FCVA). These ta-C films have interesting and useful properties because of the high sp3 fraction of carbon atoms (up to 87%) in the film. However, the high internal stress in the films can limit their applications as the film may flake away from the substrate. In order to reduce the internal stress of the ta-C films and in an attempt to improve adhesion of thick films of this type, growth modifications such as incorporating metal into the ta-C films have been carried out. Nanocomposite amorphous carbon films were deposited by FCVA technique using metal-carbon composite target. Atomic force microscopy, Raman, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy were used to characterize the morphology and structure of the films. Nanoindenter and surface profilometer were used to determine the hardness, Young's modulus, and internal stress. The same metal composition targets for different elements results in different metal composition in the corresponding nanocomposite amorphous carbon films. We attribute this observation to the dynamic balance deposition effect of the FCVA deposition process. The influence of the type of metallic elements and its composition in the films on the structural, mechanical properties, surface energy and field emission (FE) performance was studied. The incorporation of metal into the films results in the decrease of sp3 fraction, internal stress in the films, but the hardness and Young's modulus remains at high level. The surface energy of the films increases with incorporating Ni atoms, but decreases after incorporating Fe and Al atoms into the films. After heat-treatment, the incorporation of metal into ta-C films can greatly improve the FE performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalThin Solid Films
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Diamond-like carbon
  • Filtered cathodic vacuum arc
  • Hardness
  • Stress
  • a-C:Me films

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