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Thin diamond foils are needed in many particle accelerator experiments regarding nuclear and atomic physics, as well as in some interdisciplinary research. Particularly, nanodiamond texture is attractive for this purpose as it possesses a unique combination of diamond properties such as high thermal conductivity, mechanical strength and high radiation hardness; therefore, it is a potential material for energetic ion beam stripper foils. At the ORNL Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the installed set of foils must be able to survive a nominal five-month operation period, without the need for unscheduled costly shutdowns and repairs. Thus, a single nanodiamond foil about the size of a postage stamp is critical to the entire operation of SNS and similar sources in U.S. laboratories and around the world. We are investigating nanocrystalline, polycrystalline and their admixture films fabricated using a hot filament chemical vapor deposition (HFCVD) system for H- stripping to support the SNS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Here we discuss optimization of process variables such as substrate temperature, process gas ratio of H2/Ar/CH4, substrate to filament distance, filament temperature, carburization conditions, and filament geometry to achieve high purity diamond foils on patterned silicon substrates with manageable intrinsic and thermal stresses so that they can be released as free standing foils without curling. An in situ laser reflectance interferometry tool (LRI) is used for monitoring the growth characteristics of the diamond thin film materials. The optimization process has yielded free standing foils with no pinholes. The sp3/sp2 bonds are controlled to optimize electrical resistivity to reduce the possibility of surface charging of the foils. The integrated LRI and HFCVD process provides real time information on the growth of films and can quickly illustrate growth features and control over film thickness. The results are discussed in the light of development of nanodiamond foils that will be able to withstand a few MW proton beam and hopefully will be able to be used after possible future upgrades to the SNS to greater than a 3MW beam.
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