Thermal decomposition kinetics of amorphous carbon nitride and carbon films

Li Hong Zhang, Hao Gong, Jian Ping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Kinetic thermal degradation of amorphous carbon and carbon nitride films is studied. Significantly improved thermal stability was observed for films intensified with C-N, C=N, and C≡N bonds. When the N2% (percentage of nitrogen) in Ar/N2 during film deposition was varied from 0 to 30 at pressures of 3 × 10-3 and 16 × 10-3 Torr, the onset decomposition temperatures increased from 396 to 538 and from 340 to 360 °C, while the apparent activation energy ΔE at 60% residual weight increased from 149 to 158 and from 96 to 120 kJ mol-1, respectively. A change in the thermal stability was observed when the N2% reached 50. The films of higher bonding ratio and structural integration showed a single-step decomposition mechanism. They had ΔE values decreasing with the decomposition process, following convex-trend isothermal weight-loss curves. Films deposited using low-energy carbon plasma had higher contents of loosely bonded molecules; this resulted in a seemingly two-step decomposition and ΔE increasing with weight loss over a certain range. They followed concave-trend isothermal weight-loss curves. The overall decomposition mechanism could best be expressed in terms of nth-order reactions with the value of n closely related to film structures and reaction temperatures. Lower n-values are related to densely packed structure and higher temperature due to the increased diffusion barrier of the products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1697-1708
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 4 2002


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