A hybrid plasma deposition process, combining matrix assisted pulsed laser evaporation (MAPLE) of carbon nanopearls (CNPs) with magnetron sputtering of gold was investigated for growth of composite films, where 100 nm sized CNPs were encapsulated into a gold matrix. Composition and morphology of such composite films was characterized with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Carbondeposits on a gold magnetron sputter target and carbon impurities in the gold matrices of depositedfilms were observed while codepositing from gold and frozen toluene-CNP MAPLE targets in pure argon. Electrostatic quadrupole plasma analysis was used to determine that a likely mechanism for generation of carbon impurities was a reaction between toluene vapor generated from the MAPLE target and the argon plasma originating from the magnetron sputtering process. Carbon impurities of codeposited films were significantly reduced by introducing argon-oxygen mixtures into the deposition chamber; reactive oxygen species such as O and O+ effectively removed carbon contamination of gold matrix during the codeposition processes. Increasing the oxygen to argon ratio decreased the magnetron target sputter rate, and hence hybrid process optimization to prevent gold matrix contamination and maintain a high sputter yield is needed. High resolution TEM with energy dispersive spectrometry elemental mapping was used to study carbon distribution throughout the gold matrix as well as embedded CNP clusters. This research has demonstrated that a hybrid MAPLE and magnetron sputtering codeposition process is a viable means for synthesis of composite thin films from premanufactured nanoscale constituents, and that cross-process contaminations can be overcome with understanding of hybrid plasma process interaction mechanisms.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christopher-muratore/6/