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Nucleation, Growth, and Microstructure of Nanocrystalline Diamond Films

  • Dieter M. Gruen

Extract

It has been generally believed that hydrogen plays a central role in the various processes that have been developed over the years for the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of diamond films. In particular it has been thought that atomic hydrogen is an absolutely essential ingredient of the vapor from which the films are grown. Typically in diamond CVD, gas mixtures consisting of l-vol% CH3 in 99-vol% H2 have been used in which atomic hydrogen is generated either by thermal decomposition or by collisional processes in a plasma. With a hydrocarbon precursor such as CH3, gas-phase hydrogen-abstraction reactions lead to the generation of the methyl radical CH3, which adsorbs on a carbon radical site also created by hydrogen abstraction from the hydrogen-terminated growing diamond surface. Additional hydrogen-abstraction reactions allow the carbon in the adsorbed methyl radical to form carbon-carbon bonds and thus be incorporated into the diamond lattice. Because graphite is thermodynamically more stable than diamond, the growth of metastable diamond has been thought to require the presence of atomic hydrogen, which has been said to stabilize the diamond lattice and to remove graphitic nuclei when they do form because of the preferential etching or regasification of graphite over diamond. This description of diamond-film growth from hydrocarbon–hydrogen mixtures is of course a very highly condensed version of the detailed experimental and theoretical work that has been carried out in the field over the years. However the predominant conclusion of most of that work is that, particularly in the absence of oxygen and perhaps halogens, atomic hydrogen plays a crucial and decisive role in diamond CVD.

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Nucleation, Growth, and Microstructure of Nanocrystalline Diamond Films

  • Dieter M. Gruen

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