Microstructural evolution as a function of substrate temperature (TS) for conducting ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) films is systematically studied. Variation of the sp2 graphitic and sp3 diamond content with TS in the films is analysed from the Raman and near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectra. Morphological and microstructural studies confirm that at TS = 700 °C well-defined acicular structures evolve. These nanowire structures comprise sp3 phased diamond, encased in a sheath of sp2 bonded graphitic phase. TS causes a change in morphology and thereby the various properties of the films. For TS = 800 °C the acicular grain growth ceases, while that for TS = 700 °C ceases only upon termination of the deposition process. The grain-growth process for the unique needle-like granular structure is proposed such that the CN species invariably occupy the tip of the nanowire, promoting an anisotropic grain-growth process and the formation of acicular structure of the grains. The electron field emission studies substantiate that the films grown at TS = 700 °C are the most conducting, with conduction mediated through the graphitic phase present in the films.
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 45(36), 365303(9pages)