Physical properties of ultrafast deposited micro- and nanothickness amorphous hydrogenated carbon films for medical devices and prostheses

T. Zaharia, J. L. Sullivan*, S. O. Saied, R. C. Bosch, M. D. Bijker

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Hydrogenated amorphous carbon films with diamond-like structures have been formed on different substrates at very low energies and temperatures by a plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) process employing acetylene as the precursor gas. The plasma source was of a cascaded arc type with argon as the carrier gas. The films grown at very high deposition rates were found to have a practical thickness limit of ∼ 1.5 μm, above which delamination from the substrate occurred. Deposition on silicon (100), glass, and plastic substrates has been studied and the films characterized in terms of sp3 content, roughness, hardness, adhesion, and optical properties. Deposition rates of up to 20 nm/s have been achieved at substrate temperatures below 100 °C. A typical sp3 content of 60-75 per cent in the films was determined by X-ray-generated Auger electron spectroscopy (XAES). The hardness, reduced modulus, and adhesion of the films were measured using a MicroMaterials NanoTest indenter/scratch tester. Hardness was found to vary from 4 to 13 GPa depending on the admixed acetylene flow and substrate temperature. The adhesion of the film to the substrate was significantly influenced by the substrate temperature and whether an in situ d.c. cleaning was employed prior to the deposition process. The hydrogen content in the film was measured by a combination of the Fourier transformation infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Rutherford backscattering (RBS) techniques. From the results it is concluded that the films formed by the process described here are ideal for the coating of long-term implantable medical devices, such as prostheses, stents, invasive probes, catheters, biosensors, etc. The properties reported in this publication are comparable with good-quality films deposited by other PECVD methods. The advantages of these films are the low ion energy and temperature of deposition, ensuring that no damage is done to sensitive substrates, very high deposition rates, relatively low capital cost of the equipment required, and the ease of adjustment of plasma parameters, which facilitates film properties to be tailored according to the desired application.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-172
    Number of pages12
    JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


    • Cascaded-arc plasma source
    • Diamond-like hydrogenated carbon
    • Fast plasmaenhanced chemical vapour deposition
    • Hardness


    Dive into the research topics of 'Physical properties of ultrafast deposited micro- and nanothickness amorphous hydrogenated carbon films for medical devices and prostheses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this