Controlled Distribution and Clustering of Silver in Ag-DLC Nanocomposite Coatings Using a Hybrid Plasma Approach

M. Cloutier, S. Turgeon, Y. Busby, M. Tatoulian, Jean-Jacques Pireaux, D. Mantovani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incorporation of selected metallic elements into diamond-like carbon (DLC) has emerged as an innovative approach to add unique functional properties to DLC coatings, thus opening up a range of new potential applications in fields as diverse as sensors, tribology, and biomaterials. However, deposition by plasma techniques of metal-containing DLC coatings with well-defined structural properties and metal distribution is currently hindered by the limited understanding of their growth mechanisms. We report here a silver-incorporated diamond-like carbon coating (Ag-DLC) prepared in a hybrid plasma reactor which allowed independent control of the metal content and the carbon film structure and morphology. Morphological and chemical analyses of Ag-DLC films were performed by atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The vertical distribution of silver from the surface toward the coating bulk was found to be highly inhomogeneous due to top surface segregation and clustering of silver nanoparticles. Two plasma parameters, the sputtered Ag flux and ion energy, were shown to influence the spatial distribution of silver particles. On the basis of these findings, a mechanism for Ag-DLC growth by plasma was proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21020-21027
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2016


  • clustering
  • diamond-like carbon
  • plasma deposition
  • segregation
  • silver
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


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