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Epitaxy of cubic boron nitride on (001)-oriented diamond


Cubic boron nitride (c-BN), although offering a number of highly attractive properties comparable to diamond, like hardness, chemical inertness and a large electronic bandgap, up to now has not found the attention it deserves. This mostly has to do with preparational problems, with easy chemical routes not available and, instead, the necessity to apply ion-bombardment-assisted methods. Hence, most of the c-BN samples prepared as thin films have been nanocrystalline, making the prospect of using this material for high-temperature electronic applications an illusion. Although heteroepitaxial nucleation of c-BN on diamond substrates has been demonstrated using the high-pressure–high-temperature technique1,2, none of the low-pressure methods ever succeeded in the epitaxial growth of c-BN on any substrate. Here, we demonstrate that heteroepitaxial c-BN films can be prepared at 900 °C on highly (001)-oriented diamond films, formed by chemical vapour deposition, using ion-beam-assisted deposition as a low-pressure technique. The orientation relationship was found to be c-BN(001)[100]||diamond(001)[100]. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy additionally proved that epitaxy can be achieved without an intermediate hexagonal BN layer that is commonly observed3 on various substrates.

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Figure 1: a, Spectroscopic characterization of a 30-nm-thick cubic phase BN (c-BN) film grown on top of a (001) diamond film deposited by chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
Figure 2: X-ray diffraction (XRD) and electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) results.
Figure 3: High-resolution TEM (HRTEM) images from the surface and the interface regions of epitaxially grown c-BN films.
Figure 4: Atomic force microscope images characterizing the different surfaces before and after the deposition of a c-BN film.


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This work was financially supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within Graduiertenkolleg 328 as well as project Zi 317/16. The authors are grateful to the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung for access to the high-voltage TEM and to S. Grözinger, R. Höschen and G. Kästle for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to H.-G. Boyen.

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Zhang, X., Boyen, HG., Deyneka, N. et al. Epitaxy of cubic boron nitride on (001)-oriented diamond. Nature Mater 2, 312–315 (2003).

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