The effect of the surface layer of tetrahedral amorphous carbon films on their tribological and electron emission properties investigated by atomic force microscopy

Liu, Dongping; Benstetter, Günther; Frammelsberger, Werner
June 2003
Applied Physics Letters;6/2/2003, Vol. 82 Issue 22, p3898
Academic Journal
The nanowear resistance, tribological, and field emission properties of tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) films have been analyzed by atomic force microscope (AFM)-based wear testing technique, lateral force microscope, and conducting AFM. The ta-C films grown by filtered pulsed cathodic arc discharge were found to have soft surface layers, 1.1±0.1 nm thick, which contribute to an improvement of their field emission properties. The low friction coefficient between the nanotip and film surface is correlated to one or two graphite-like atomic layers at the ta-C film surfaces. The analysis of Fowler–Nordheim tunneling currents indicates the formation of filament-like emission channels in amorphous carbon films. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.


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