Conducting diamond nanowires (DNWs) films have been synthesized by N₂-based microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition. The incorporation of nitrogen into DNWs films is examined by C 1s X-ray photoemission spectroscopy and morphology of DNWs is discerned using field-emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The electron diffraction pattern, the visible-Raman spectroscopy, and the near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy display the coexistence of sp³ diamond and sp² graphitic phases in DNWs films. In addition, the microstructure investigation, carried out by high-resolution TEM with Fourier transformed pattern, indicates diamond grains and graphitic grain boundaries on surface of DNWs. The same result is confirmed by scanning tunneling microscopy and scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS). Furthermore, the STS spectra of current-voltage curves discover a high tunneling current at the position near the graphitic grain boundaries. These highly conducting regimes of grain boundaries form effective electron paths and its transport mechanism is explained by the three-dimensional (3D) Mott's variable range hopping in a wide temperature from 300 to 20 K. Interestingly, this specific feature of high conducting grain boundaries of DNWs demonstrates a high efficiency in field emission and pave a way to the next generation of high-definition flat panel displays or plasma devices.
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 5(4), pp.1294-1301