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This article reports findings when using a molybdenum–tungsten (MoW) interlayer for diamond thin film deposition on steel substrates. The main focus was on the postdeposition stress within the diamond films and its impact on the coating's tribological properties. The effect of MoW interlayer thickness and the effect of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process temperature have been investigated. Nanocrystalline diamond films were deposited on steel substrates with MoW interlayers (thickness of 1.1, 4.5, and 8.3 μm) at two different deposition temperatures (650 and 875 °C). It was found that when depositing good quality diamond films on steel substrates, increasing interlayer thickness and decreasing CVD process temperature have to be jointly considered to obtain the optimal result. The diamond-coated steel substrates with the 8.3 μm interlayer deposited at the lower CVD processing temperature exhibited the least residual stress combined with excellent mechanical properties.
The synergetic effects of surface smoothing exhibited during the inductively coupled plasma reactive ion etching (ICP-RIE) of free-standing polycrystalline diamonds (PCDs) were investigated. Changing the assistive gas types generated variable surface oxidation states and chemical environments that resulted in different etching rates and surface morphologies. The main reaction bond mechanism (C–O) during ICP-RIE and the ratio of C–O–C/O–C=O associated with the existence of a uniform smooth surface with root mean square (RMS) roughness of 2.36 nm were observed. An optimal process for PCD smoothing at high etching rate (4.6 μm/min) was achieved as follows: 10% gas additions of CHF3 in O2 plasma at radio frequency power of 400 W. The further etched ultra-smooth surface with RMS roughness <0.5 nm at etching rate of 0.23 μm/min that being produced by transferring this optimum recipe on single crystal diamonds with surface patterns confirmed the effectiveness of the fast smoothing approach and its feasibility for diamond surface patterning.
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