Ion mass spectrometry was used to investigate discharges formed during high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) and direct current magnetron sputtering (DCMS) of a graphite target in Ar and Ar/N 2 ambient. Ion energy distribution functions (IEDFs) were recorded in time-averaged and time-resolved mode for Ar +, C +, N 2 +, N +, and C xN y + ions. An increase of N 2 in the sputter gas (keeping the deposition pressure, pulse width, pulse frequency, and pulse energy constant) results for the HiPIMS discharge in a significant increase in C +, N +, and CN + ion energies. Ar +, N 2 +, and C 2N + ion energies, in turn, did not considerably vary with the changes in working gas composition. The HiPIMS process showed higher ion energies and fluxes, particularly for C + ions, compared to DCMS. The time evolution of the plasma species was analyzed for HiPIMS and revealed the sequential arrival of working gas ions, ions ejected from the target, and later during the pulse-on time molecular ions, in particular CN + and C 2N +. The formation of fullerene-like structured CN x thin films for both modes of magnetron sputtering is explained by ion mass-spectrometry results and demonstrated by transmission electron microscopy as well as diffraction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)