Simultaneous synthesis of nanodiamonds and graphene via plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (MW PE-CVD) on copper

Gottlieb, Steven ORCID; Wöhrl, Nicolas GND; Schulz, Stephan GND; Buck, Volker GND

The simultaneous growth of both nanodiamonds and graphene on copper samples is described for the first time. A PE-CVD process is used to synthesize graphene layers and nanodiamond clusters from a hydrogen/methane gas mixture as it is typically done successfully in thermal CVD processes for graphene synthesis. However, the standard thermal CVD process is not without problems since the deposition of graphene is affected by the evaporation of a notable amount of copper caused by the slow temperature increase typical for thermal CVD resulting in a long process time. In sharp contrast, the synthesis of graphene by PE-CVD can circumvent this problem by substantially shortening the process time at holding out the prospect of a lower substrate temperature. The reduced thermal load and the possibility to industrially scale-up the PE-CVD process makes it a very attractive alternative to the thermal CVD process with respect to the graphene production in the future. Nanodiamonds are synthesized in PE-CVD reactors for a long time because these processes offer a high degree of control over the film’s nanostructure and simultaneously providing a significant high deposition rate. To model the co-deposition process, the three relevant macroscopic parameters (pressure, gas mixture and microwave power) are correlated with three relevant process properties (plasma ball size, substrate temperature and C2/Hα-ratio) and the influence on the quality of the deposited carbon allotropes is investigated. For the evaluation of the graphene as well as the nanodiamond quality, Raman spectroscopy used whereas the plasma properties are measured by optical methods. It is found that the diamond nucleation can be influenced by the C2/Hα-ratio in the plasma, while the graphene quality remains mostly unchanged by this parameter. Moreover it is derived from the experimental data that the direct plasma contact with the copper surface is beneficial for the nucleation of the diamond while the growth and quality of the graphene benefits from a larger distance to the plasma. Therefore, this work presents a basis for a method to tailor the deposition of graphene–diamond hybrid films using a MW PE-CVD process or to suppress the diamond deposition entirely if desired.


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Gottlieb, S., Wöhrl, N., Schulz, S., Buck, V., 2016. Simultaneous synthesis of nanodiamonds and graphene via plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (MW PE-CVD) on copper.
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