The growth of hydrogenated amorphous carbons (a-C:H) produced by continuous or pulsed discharges of acetylene (C H ) in an unbalanced magnetron setup was investigated. At 5 × 10 Torr, only smooth films are obtained, whereas at 5 × 10 Torr using a pulsed discharge some microtextured films are formed if the duty cycle is low. The morphology of these microtextured films consists of nanoparticles, filamentary particles, and particular agglomerates ("microflowers"). This paper presents a study of acetylene gas phase polymerization by mass spectrometry, and a detailed analysis of bulk structure of films by combining three techniques which include IR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and laser desorption/ionization Fourier transform mass spectrometry (LDI-FTMS). Finally, based on the study of gas phase and film structure, we propose a model for the growth of both smooth and microtextured films. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
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