Boron-Carbon-Nitrogen compounds with fullerene-like structure

Supported by EC contract number HPRN-CT-2002-00209

I. Motivation:

  • The BCN system (C, BC, CN, BN, BCN) compiles the hardest materials known (diamond, c-BN, B4C) and other hypothetical super-hard phases (ß-C3N4).Tuneable electronic and mechanical properties and possible growth as nanostructured materials (fullerenes, carbon nanotube, etc.).

  • · Potential application as protective coating in magnetic disks, cutting tools, etc.

II. What is fullerene-like:

  • · The fullerene-like structure arises from the presence of bent and cross-linked graphitic-like basal planes.
  • · Mainly, it has been reported in the production of carbon nitride films (CNx).

High resolution TEM picture showing a

CNx film with fullerene-like structure

Role of N to bend the graphene sheets


  • This structure results in a compliant and tough material at the same time (high elastic recovery, >80%).

III. How fullerene-like carbon nitride (FL-CNx) can be produced:

  • · Important parameters for the growth are the substrate temperature (200-500°C) and low-energy ion bombardment.

IV. Experimental system at FZD:

  • · Study of the synthesis of BCN compounds by Ion Beam Assisted Deposition.
  • · Use of low-energy ions aiming at the promotion of fullerene-like structures.

For further information please contact:

Prof. Wolfhard Möller Tel. +49 (0) 351 260 2245

Dr. Andreas Kolitsch Tel. +49 (0) 351 260 3348

Dr. Raúl Gago Tel. +49 (0) 351 260 2995

This work is carried out inside the EU-Network “Synthesis, structure and properties of new fullerene-like materials”.


1. M.S. Dresselhaus, G. Dresselhaus, P.C. Eklund, "Science of Fullerenes and Carbon Nanotubes", Academic Press, San Diego, 1996.

2. L. Hultman, J. Neidhardt, N. Hellgren, H. Sjöstrom, J.E. Sundgren, "Fullerene-like Carbon Nitride: A resilient Coating Material", MRS Bulletin 28, 194 (2003).

3. H. Sjöström, S. Stafström, M. Boman, J. E. Sundgren, "Superhard and Elastic Carbon Nitride Thin Films Having Fullerenelike Microstructure", Physical Review Letters 75, 1336 (1995).

4. N. Hellgren, M.P. Johansson, E. Broitman, L. Hultman, J.-E. Sundgren, "Role of Nitrogen in the formation of hard and elastic CNx thin films by reactive magnetron sputtering", Physical Review B 59, 5162 (1999).

5. S. Stafström, "Reactivity of curved and planar carbon-nitride Structures", Applied Physics Letters 77, 3941 (2000).

6. J. Neidhardt, L. Hultman, B. Abendroth, R. Gago, W. Möller, "Diagnostics of an N2/Ar DC Magnetron Discharge for Reactive Sputter Deposition of Fullerene-Like Carbon Nitride Thin Films" Journal of Applied Physics 94 (2003) 7059-7066.