Amorphous hydrogenated carbon films (𝑎-C:H) on 𝑝-type (100) silicon wafers were prepared with a middle frequency pulsed unbalanced magnetron sputtering technique (MFPUMST) at different ratios of methane–argon gases. The band characteristics, mechanical properties as well as refractive index were measured by Raman spectra, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nano-indentation tests and spectroscopic ellipsometry. It is found that the 𝑠𝑝3 fraction increases with increasing Ar concentration in the range of 17–50%, and then decreases when Ar concentration exceeds 50%. The nano-indentation tests reveal that nano-hardness and elastic modulus of the films increase with increasing Ar concentration in the range of 17–50%, while decreases with increasing Ar concentration from 50% to 86%. The variations in the nano-hardness and the elastic modulus could be interpreted due to different 𝑠𝑝3 fractions in the prepared 𝑎-C:H films. The variation of refractive index with wavelength have the same tendency for the 𝑎-C:H films prepared at different Ar concentrations, they decrease with increasing wavelength from 600 to 1700 nm. For certain wavelengths within 600–1700 nm, refractive index has the highest value at the Ar concentration of 50%, and it is smaller at the Ar concentration of 86% than at 17%. The results given above indicate that ratio of mixed gases has a strong influence on bonding configuration and properties of 𝑎-C:H films during deposition. The related mechanism is discussed in this paper.
Volume 43, 2020
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