Vapor phase lubrication (VPL) integrates media lubrication with the vacuum processing steps used throughout most of the hard disk media fabrication process. This avoids exposure of the unlubricated a-CHx overcoat surface to the ambient air and airborne contamination. In vapor lubrication the a-CHx surface can be oxidized under controlled conditions immediately prior to lubricant adsorption. The kinetics of a-CHx oxidation have been studied using x-ray photoemission spectroscopy in an apparatus that allows oxidation of freshly deposited a-CHx films. The dissociative sticking coefficient of oxygen is ∼10−6 and the initial oxidation kinetics can be described by a Langmuir-Hinshelwood mechanism.

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