Ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) film is usually grown in methane-argon plasma unlike methane-hydrogen plasma conventionally used to deposit microcrystalline diamond film. The prenucleation and growth mechanism of these two types of diamond films are different as well. The present study introduces titanium metal powder during ultrasonication of silicon substrate to enhance the nucleation density of UNCD. A titanium thin film was also used at the interface to find the effect of metal on the growth of diamond film. The nucleation density of as-grown film was estimated from the FE-SEM images. After 20 min of growth, nucleation density reaches to 10(11)/cm(2) on a surface pretreated by titanium mixed nanodiamond powder. Raman study was carried out for qualitative analysis of different carbon phase present in the UNCD films. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was used to understand the growth mechanism by detecting the formation of carbon phase and metal carbide formation at the surface after stopping the growth at different time intervals. (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier B.V.