A study has been conducted on ZrC/VC alloy thin films prepared by both pulsed laser deposition (PLD) and RF magnetron sputtering. The phase formation, wear properties, and hardness of these thin films were examined. An alloy target comprised of 36% VC and 64% ZrC (atomic %) was used to deposit films at 200°, 2000°, and 400° C. The nominal film thickness was 0.6 μm. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis revealed these films were solid-solution alloys and showed a preference for (100) orientation for sputter-deposited films and a (110) orientation for laser deposition. More highly oriented films were obtained at elevated temperatures as evidenced by rocking curve measurements on the PLD films. The FWHM of the peaks ranged from 2.2° to 8.3° for films deposited at 400° C and 20° C, respectively.
Using time-of-flight quadmpole mass spectrometry (TOFQMS), we performed plume diagnostics to measure particle energies and the thermalization effects of the background gas. In vacuum, typical ion energies ranged from ˜5–100 eV while the neutral atoms had kinetic energies from ˜1–5 eV. Our measurements show that the background gas can be used to selectively thermalize low mass components in the plume. From measured kinetic energies and collision effects of the gas, the changes in crystallographic structure of the alloy with pressure appear to result from collision-induced effects from condensation of the Zr atoms. This ‘heavy’ atom effect may be an important new processing parameter with which to adjust film morphology and crystal texture.