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Microwear experiments on metal containing amorphous hydrocarbon hard coatings by AFM. Wear mechanisms and models for the load and time dependence

: Schiffmann, K.I.


Wear 216 (1998), No.1, pp.27-34
ISSN: 0043-1648
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IST ()
atomic force microscopy; hydrocarbon hard coating; macrowear; microwear

Metal-containing amorphous hydrocarbon films (Me-C:H) consist of nanometer-sized metallic particles embedded in a highly cross-linked hydrocarbon matrix. The coatings have excellent tribological properties and an adjustable electrical conductivity. This is why they are of high interest for industrial applications. Microscopic wear tests have been perfomed on W-C:H and Au-C:H surfaces using an atomic force microscope (AFM) with a diamond tip. Periodical breaking-off of material inside the wear trace could directly be observed by AFM imaging during the wear process, indicating material fatigue as one wear mechanism. Furthermore, it was found that columnar growth structure and percolation of the metallic nanoparticles strongly influence the fatigue and wear resistance of the coatings. The load dependence and time dependence of the wear process and especially of the fatigue phenomenon are described by semiempirical microscopic wear models. A comparison with macroscopic tribological tests demonstrates the significance of microwear tests for practical applications.