Tribology-structure relationships in silicon oxycarbide thin films

Joseph V. Ryan, Paolo Colombo, Jane A. Howell, Carlo G. Pantano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Silicon oxycarbide is a versatile material system that is attractive for many applications because of its ability to tune properties such as chemical compatibility, refractive index, electrical conductivity, and optical band gap through changes in composition. One particularly intriguing application lies in the production of biocompatible coatings with good mechanical properties. In this paper, we report on the wide range of mechanical and tribological property values exhibited by silicon oxycarbide thin films deposited by reactive radio frequency magnetron sputtering. Through a change in oxygen partial pressure in the sputtering plasma, the composition of the films was controlled to produce relatively pure SiO2, carbon-doped SiC, and compositions between these limits. Hardness values were 8-20 GPa over this range and the elastic modulus was measured to be between 60 and 220 GPa. We call attention to the fit of the mechanical data to a simple additive bond-mixture model for property prediction. Tribological parameters were measured using a ball-on-disk apparatus and the samples exhibited the same general trends for friction coefficient and wear rate. One film is shown to produce variable low friction behavior and low wear rate, which suggests a solid-state self-lubrication process because of heterogeneity on the nanometer scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-686
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Marketing
  • Materials Chemistry


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