Journal of Applied Physics vol:106 issue:3 pages:033504-1-033504-9
033504 (9 pp)
We have studied the influence of chemical and physical sputtering on the surface morphology of hydrogenated carbon films deposited on silicon substrates by bias-enhanced electron cyclotron resonance chemical vapor deposition. Atomic force microscopy based power spectrum density (PSD) and roughness analysis have been used to investigate the film morphology. This study has been possible due to the appropriate choice of the experimental variables, in particular, gas mixture, resulting in either nitrogen-free (a-C:H) or nitrogenated carbon (a-CN:H) films, and substrate bias (V-b). Under these conditions, chemical sputtering is present for a-CN:H deposition but it is negligible for a-C:H film growth, while physical sputtering processes appear for both systems for V-b <-85 V. When physical sputtering does not operate, the film growth with simultaneous chemical sputtering leads to a characteristic a-CN:H granular surface morphology. Furthermore, PSD analysis reveals that a spatial correlation of the a-CN:H film surface roughness, up to distances similar to 300 nm, becomes a fingerprint of the coexistence of growth and chemical erosion processes on the film morphology. However, once physical sputtering takes place, the influence of chemical sputtering by reactive nitrogen species on the final surface morphology becomes negligible and both a-CN:H and a-C:H film morphologies are ultrasmooth.