Substrate crystal recovery for homoepitaxial diamond synthesis
Homoepitaxial chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of diamond requires high quality substrate crystals. This paper describes the process of diamond substrate crystal recovery so that the original substrate can be reused for multiple synthesis processes. A three-stage treatment is applied after homoepitaxial CVD growth. First the original substrate is separated by laser cutting, then the cut surface is mechanically polished, and finally polycrystalline material at the edges of the recovered seed plate is laser trimmed. This recovery process yields reusable diamond substrates that do not differ appreciably from their original state in terms of stresses and impurity concentrations. While the recovery process was demonstrated using HPHT seed substrates the process can also be applied to the as-grown CVD diamond plates. Infrared absorption spectral analysis, surface profilometry, birefringence imaging and Raman spectroscopy are performed after each processing step to monitor crystal quality. The nitrogen concentration in the substrate crystal remains constant throughout CVD and recovery processes. When using HPHT type Ib substrates the detected nitrogen concentration is 110-180 ppm. The nitrogen is mainly incorporated in form of C center defects and no transformation to other forms of defect centers occurs during the CVD process. Birefringence imaging showed a low level of internal stress within the HPHT crystals. No change is observed during CVD growth and recovery processes. It is shown that the polycrystalline rim removal is essential for repeatable CVD deposition on the same seed substrate. Substrate crystal recovery allows growth of up to 20 crystals from one original seed.