A method for forming a metal carbide layer begins with providing a substrate, an organometallic precursor material, at least one doping agent such as nitrogen, and a plasma such as a hydrogen plasma. The substrate is placed within a reaction chamber; and heated. A process cycle is then performed, where the process cycle includes pulsing the organometallic precursor material into the reaction chamber, pulsing the doping agent into the reaction chamber, and pulsing the plasma into the reaction chamber, such that the organometallic precursor material, the doping agent, and the plasma react at the surface of the substrate to form a metal carbide layer. The process cycles can be repeated and varied to form a graded metal carbide layer.
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