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[en] Highlights: • A hybrid PECVD/sputtering system was developed for the synthesis of carbon catalysts. • Fe-N-doped carbon catalysts are directly synthesized on carbon papers as fuel cell electrode. • The synthesized catalysts exhibit high ORR activity with the onset potential of 0.84 V at 10 μA. • The high ORR activity is associated with Fe-N coordination bonds in the synthesized carbon catalysts. A hybrid plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD)/sputtering system was developed to prepare iron (Fe)-nitrogen (N)-doped carbon catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). This hybrid system combines PECVD effective for the synthesis of nanocarbons with sputtering technique for the doping of metals such as Fe where the amount of the doping can be independently controlled during synthesizing nanocarbons. By using this system, Fe-N-doped carbon catalysts are directly synthesized on carbon papers which have been widely used as a gas diffusion layer in fuel cells. The synthesized catalysts with carbon papers exhibit high ORR activity. This is attributed to Fe-N coordination bonds which are stably formed in the synthesized catalysts.