Diamond Film Growth by MWPECVD Techique

(MicroWave Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition)

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) processes assisted by plasmas, commonly known as plasma assisted CVD (PACVD) or plasma enhanced CVD (PECVD), are versatile in the production of materials with properties needful for the high-tech industries as microelectronic, optoelectronic, photovoltaic, biomaterials, food packaging, automobile, sensors. By choosing the right volatile monomers, also mixed with inert gases (Ar, He, etc.), and gases like H2, O2, N2, it is possible to deposit thin film having unique and reliable electrical, chemical and structural properties, on any vacuum compatible substrates.

In this research activity, undoped nanocrystalline (NCD) and polycrystalline diamond (PCD) films are deposited by microwave PECVD (MWPECVD) technique starting from gas mixtures of CH4 highly diluted (less than 5%) in Ar and H2, respectively.

The diamond has superior and unique physical properties such as extreme mechanical hardness, highest known thermal conductivity, broad optical transparency from the deep UV to the far IR radiations and chemical inertness to cite just a few. The last two and half decades have witnessed an increasing interest in synthetic NCD and PCD growth in film form by employing MWPECVD (see below) and HFCVD (Hot Filament CVD) techniques. The deposition process is in-situ monitored by Pyrometric (PI) and Laser Reflectance (LRI) Interferometries, and by Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES).

For details see refs. [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]


Moreover, the active species produced in plasmas can modify the surface of materials preserving their bulk properties. Specifically, the H2 microwave plasma is used to hydrogenate the surface of diamond or diamond powder because the hydrogen coverage turns the positive electron affinity (PEA) in negative one (NEA). The NEA is responsible for the strong enhancement of photoemission when utilized as emitters.


NCD and PCD films are characterized by Raman spectroscopy, atomic force (AFM) and scanning electron (SEM) microscopies, and x-ray diffraction (XRD).


Facilities & Labs

MWPECVD Laboratory @ Bari




CNR Senior Researcher



Associate PostDoc


  1. G. S. Senesi, G. Cicala, Morphological characterization of diamond coatings grown by MWPECVD on hexagonal boron nitride, International Journal of Engineering Research & Science 1 9-19 (2015) ISSN: 2395-6992.
  2. G. Cicala, V. Magaletti, G.S. Senesi, G. Carbone, D. Altamura, C. Giannini, R. Bartali, Superior hardness and Young’s modulus of low temperature nanocrystalline diamond coatings, Mater Chem Phys, 144, 505-511, (2014) ISSN: 0254-0584; doi: 10.1016/j.matchemphys.2014.01.027.
  3. G. Cicala, V. Magaletti, G. S. Senesi, M. Tamborra, Smoothness improvement of micrometer and submicrometer-thick nanocrystalline diamond films produced by MWPECVD, J. Nanopart. Res., 15, 1549 (14pp), (2013) ISSN: 1388-0764; DOI 10.1007/s11051-013-1549-x.
  4. G. Cicala, Deposition of carbon based-materials by continuous and pulsed discharges, Surface Engineering, 28, 141-148, (2012) ISSN: 0267-0844; DOI 10.1179/1743294411Y.0000000080.
  5. G. Cicala, D. Monéger, D. Cornacchia, P.Pesce, V. Magaletti, G. Perna, V. Capozzi, M. Tamborra, Toward smooth MWPECVD diamond films: exploring the limits of the hydrogen percentage in Ar/H2/CH4 gas mixture, Surface & Coatings Technology 211 152-157 (2012) ISSN: 0257-8972; doi: 10.1016/j.surfcoat.2011.09.065.
  6. A. Gicquel, N. Derkaoui, C. Rond, F. Benedic, G. Cicala, D. Moneger, K. Hassouni, Quantitative analysis of diamond deposition reactor efficiency, Chemical Physics, 398, 239-247, (2012) ISSN: 0301-0104; doi: 10.1016/j.chemphys.2011.08.022.
  7. M. A. Nitti, G.Cicala, R.Brescia, A.Romeo, J.B.Guion, G. Perna, V.Capozzi, Mechanical Properties of MWPECVD Diamond Coatings on Si Substrate via Nanoindentation, Diamond and Related Materials, 20, 221-226, (2011) ISSN: 0925-9635; doi: 10.1016/j.diamond.2010.12.002.
  8. G. Cicala, R. Brescia, M.A. Nitti, A. Romeo, D. Altamura, C. Giannini, M. Capitelli, P. Spinelli, S. Schutzmann, Study of polycrystalline diamond deposition by continuous and pulsed discharges, Surface & Coatings Technology 204, 1884-1888, (2010) ISSN: 0257-8972; doi:10.1016/j.surfcoat.2009.09.001.
  9. G. Cicala, P. Bruno, F. Bénédic, F. Silva, K. Hassouni, G.S.Senesi, Nucleation, growth and characterization of nanocrystalline diamond films, Diamond Relat.Mater. 14, 421- 425, (2005) ISSN: 0925-9635; doi: 10.1016/j.diamond.2004.12.025.
  10. P. Bruno, F. Bénédic, A. Tallaire, F. J. Oliveira, M.S. Amaral, A. J. Fernandes, G. Cicala and R.F. Silva, Deposition of nanocrystalline diamond films on silicon nitride ceramic substrates using pulsed microwave discharges in Ar/H2/CH4 gas mixture” Diamond Rel. Mater. 14, 432-436, (2005) ISSN: 0925-9635; doi: 10.1016/j.diamond.2004.10.023.


1a. A. Valentini, D. Melisi, G. De Pascali, G. Cicala, L. Velardi, A. Massaro, High-efficiency nanodiamond-based ultraviolet photocathodes, 2016 (Patent n. WO 2017/051318). 


Method for the production of high efficiency photocathodes for ultraviolet based on nanodiamonds, comprising providing a support (10; 20, 21) capable of conducting electrons, and producing a photosensitive layer of nanodiamonds (30) on the support (10; 20, 21).

Production of the photosensitive layer includes providing nanodiamond particles in the form of powder, hydrogenating the nanoparticles in a H2 plasma, preparing a dispersion of the hydrogenated particles in a solvent, and spraying the dispersion onto the support and waiting for the solvent to evaporate from the support, the spray and waiting cycle being repeated several times in order to obtain a continuous photosensitive layer.


Progetto Partenariati Regionali per l’Innovazione – PUGLIA Fesr (2007-2013)
Development of a diamond film detector for ultraviolet radiation, Progetto Strategico ATS PS_136 of Regione Puglia, Italy (2007-2010)
APULIA SPACE: Esperti nell’uso di tecnologia abilitanti nel settore dello spazio,  PON03PE_00067_6, (2014-2016)

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