Hard carbon coatings: the way forward

Stephan Neuville, Allan Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the first reports by Aisenberg and Chabot in 1971 indicating the possibility of producing hard amorphous (so-called diamondlike) carbon (DLC) films, many experimental and theoretical research results have been published outlining the properties and film growth mechanisms of these films deposited by a variety of techniques. Polycrystalline and even quasimonocrystalline diamond thin films have also been produced, thus providing a wide range of wear and corrosion properties. The difference between these materials and graphite led to a prediction of rapid market growth for hard carbon. However this has not materialized. A large number of carbonbased films have been produced with differences in hardness, elasticity, friction coefficient, optical and electronic bandgap, electrical and thermal conductivity, and thermal stability. In addition these materials can show very different practical adhesion properties, which depend also on the substrate material and composition. Cost, deposition rate and temperature, geometry, and size of the coating chamber are additional variables. As a result, many of these materials can only be used for a limited range of applications. It is now possible to better understand the suitability of various coatings and the causes of the early failures that occurred through unsuitable material choices. This improved understanding should allow improvements in the performance and reliability of hard carbon films and perhaps trigger the kind of market growth that was originally foreseen but failed to materialize.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-26
Number of pages5
JournalMRS Bulletin
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1997


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