Hydrogenated Cu-incorporated diamond-like carbon (a-C:H/Cu) films were prepared in the present study using a radio-frequency plasma magnetron sputtering system at various CH4/Ar gas ratios. The a-C:H/Cu films were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, nano-indentation and a contact angle goniometer. The antibacterial properties and cell cytotoxicity of a-C:H/Cu films were evaluated as per JIS Z2801:2010 and ISO 10993-5 specifications, respectively. The analytical results revealed that the production of a-C:H/Cu films varied with the CH4/Ar ratio, and the phase transformation (amorphous-like → nano-polycrystalline structure) was induced by Cu doping/ion bombardment and radical reactions. Moreover, it was found that the microhardness of the a-C:H/Cu films decreased with increasing Ar fraction in the gas ratio. The a-C:H/Cu films exhibited a high hydrophobic surface feature. The film which contained 77.3 ± 4.4 at.% Cu did not influence cell adhesion and proliferation behaviors. Antibacterial tests also demonstrated that a-C:H/Cu films possessed excellent antibacterial properties. Therefore, a-C:H/Cu films could be developed as promising antibacterial coatings for biomedical applications.
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