WARF: P03169US

Method of Treating Surfaces to Create Extremely Hard Carbon Films


Ferencz Denes, Sorin Manolache, Luis Emilio Cruz-Barba

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a new method of producing extremely hard carbon films.
OVERVIEWThe extreme characteristics of diamond, including hardness, wear-resistance, biocompatibility, optical transparency and electric insulating properties, make it very useful for a range of industrial applications. In the past, production of synthetic diamond required extremely high temperatures and pressures. Now, however, diamond-like carbon films can be made at low pressures and relatively low temperatures by techniques such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD).

During conventional CVD and plasma-enhanced CVD processes, activated molecular fragments resulting from a specific mixture of hydrocarbons and acetylene are deposited onto the surface of a substrate held at temperatures of 600 to 900° Celsius. These temperatures are required to shift the reaction equilibrium toward the formation of diamond structures; however, they also limit the technique’s utility because temperature-sensitive substrates, such as polymers and low-melting point alloys, can’t be treated in this way.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a new method of producing extremely hard carbon films at room temperature and under low pressure. The method involves exposing an organic polymer on a surface to a sulfur hexafluoride-containing plasma. The researchers have shown this treatment converts pre-deposited, poly-acrylic thin layers on surfaces into carbon films with hardness values greater than nine. For comparison, diamond-like coatings have a hardness of 10.
  • Production of extremely hard carbon films for industrial applications
  • Produces carbon films of extreme hardness (hardness values greater than nine) and low friction
  • Plasma reaction proceeds at room temperature and low pressure (50 to 500 mTorr).
  • Results in films of greater than 90 atomic percent carbon
  • Treatment takes as little as five minutes
  • Can confer extreme heat-, scratch- and wear-resistance on virtually any material, including glass, quartz, metal, plastic and silicon (provided they are coated first with the appropriate organic polymer)
  • Can be used to treat items of varying shapes and sizes, including windows, medical implants and eyeglass and other lenses
  • Unlike CVD techniques, which produce films composed of networks of small diamond crystals, this technique creates carbon films of high uniformity and smoothness.
  • Plasma treatment can take place in any suitable plasma reactor.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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