The effect of substrate temperature on the properties of nanostructured silicon carbide films deposited by hypersonic plasma particle deposition

J. Blum, N. Tymiak, A. Neuman, Z. Wong, N. P. Rao, Steven L Girshick, William W Gerberich, Peter H McMurry, J. V.R. Heberlein

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20 Scopus citations


Nanostructured silicon carbide films have been deposited on molybdenum substrates by hypersonic plasma particle deposition. In this process a thermal plasma with injected reactants (SiCl4 and CH4) is expanded through a nozzle leading to the nucleation of ultrafine particles. Particles entrained in the supersonic flow are then inertially deposited in vacuum onto a temperature-controlled substrate, leading to the formation of a consolidated film. In the experiments reported, the deposition substrate temperature Ts has ranged from 250°C to 700°C, and the effect of Ts on film morphology, composition, and mechanical properties has been studied. Examination of the films by scanning electron microscopy has shown that the grain sizes in the films did not vary significantly with Ts. Micro-X-ray diffraction analysis of the deposits has shown that amorphous films are deposited at low Ts, while crystalline films are formed at high Ts. Rutherford backscattering spectrometry has indicated that the films are largely stoichiometric silicon carbide with small amounts of chlorine. The chlorine content decreases from 8% to 1.5% when the deposition temperature is raised from 450°C to 700°C. Nanoindentation and microindentation tests have been performed on as-deposited films to measure hardness, Young's modulus and to evaluate adhesion strength. The tests show that film adhesion, hardness and Young's modulus increase with increasing Ts. These results taken together demonstrate that in HPPD, as in vapor deposition processes, the substrate temperature may be used to control film properties, and that better quality films are obtained at higher substrate temperatures, i.e. Ts ≈ 700°C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by NSF (CTS-9520147), the Engineering Research Center for Plasma-Aided Manufacturing (NSF ECD-87-21545) and the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute. Z. Wong acknowledges support from the NSF-sponsored Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at the University of Minnesota.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Film hardness
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanostructural film
  • Particle deposition
  • Silicon carbide
  • Thermal plasma


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