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Application of a quantum cascade laser for time-resolved, in situ probing of CH4/H2 and C2H2/H2 gas mixtures during microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition of diamond

Cheesman, A. and Smith, J.A. and Ashfold, M.N.R. and Langford, N. and Wright, S. and Duxbury, G. (2006) Application of a quantum cascade laser for time-resolved, in situ probing of CH4/H2 and C2H2/H2 gas mixtures during microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition of diamond. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 110 (8). 2821 -2828. ISSN 1089-5639

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Abstract

First illustrations of the utility of pulsed quantum cascade lasers for in situ probing of the chemistry prevailing in microwave plasma activated hydrocarbon/Ar/H2 gas mixtures used for diamond thin film growth are reported. CH4 and C2H2 molecules, and their interconversion, have been monitored by line-of-sight single pass absorption methods, as a function of process conditions (e.g., choice of input hydrocarbon (CH4 or C2H2), hydrocarbon mole fraction, total gas pressure, and applied microwave power). The observed trends can be rationalized, qualitatively, within the framework of the previously reported modeling of the gas-phase chemistry prevailing in hot filament activated hydrocarbon/H2 gas mixtures (Ashfold et al. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2001, 3, 3471). Column densities of vibrationally excited C2H2(v5=1) molecules at low input carbon fractions are shown to be far higher than expected on the basis of local thermodynamic equilibrium. The presence of vibrationally excited C2H2 molecules (C2H2) can be attributed to the exothermicity of the C2H3 + H C2H2 + H2 elementary reaction within the overall multistep CH4 C2H2 conversion. Diagnostic methods that sample just C2H2(v=0) molecules thus run the risk of underestimating total C2H2 column densities in hydrocarbon/H2 mixtures operated under conditions where the production rate of C2H2 molecules exceeds their vibrational relaxation (and thermal equilibration) rates.