Advances in the growth of silicon carbide (SiC) thin films with outstanding thermal and mechanical properties have received considerable attention. However, the fabrication of large-area free-standing SiC membrane still remains a challenge. Here, the authors report a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition process at a relatively high temperature to improve the free-standing SiC membrane area. A systematic study on the microstructural, mechanical, and optical properties of hydrogenated polycrystalline silicon carbide (poly-SiCx:H) thin films deposited at 600 °C with different annealing temperatures has been performed. In the as-deposited state, SiCx:H thin films show a polycrystalline structure. The crystallinity degree can be further improved with the increase of the postdeposition annealing temperature. The resulting process produced free-standing 2-μm-thick SiC membranes up to 70 mm in diameter with root mean square roughness of 3.384 nm and optical transparency of about 70% at 632.8 nm wavelength. The large-area SiC membranes made out of poly-SiCx:H thin films deposited at a relatively high temperature can be beneficial for a wide variety of applications, such as x-ray diffractive optical elements, optical and mechanical filtering, lithography mask, lightweight space telescopes, etc.

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