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Hardness and Young's modulus of amorphous a-SiC thin films determined by nanoindentation and bulge tests

  • M.A. El Khakani (a1), M. Chaker (a1), A. Jean (a1), S. Boily (a1), J.C. Kieffer (a1), M.E. O'Hern (a2), M.F. Ravet (a3) and F. Rousseaux (a3)...


Due to its interesting mechanical properties, silicon carbide is an excellent material for many applications. In this paper, we report on the mechanical properties of amorphous hydrogenated or hydrogen-free silicon carbide thin films deposited by using different deposition techniques, namely plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD), laser ablation deposition (LAD), and triode sputtering deposition (TSD). a-SixC1−x: H PECVD, a-SiC LAD, and a-SiC TSD thin films and corresponding free-standing membranes were mechanically investigated by using nanoindentation and bulge techniques, respectively. Hardness (H), Young's modulus (E), and Poisson's ratio (v) of the studied silicon carbide thin films were determined. It is shown that for hydrogenated a-SixC1−x: H PECVD films, both hardness and Young's modulus are dependent on the film composition. The nearly stoichiometric a-SiC: H films present higher H and E values than the Si-rich a-SixC1−x: H films. For hydrogen-free a-SiC films, the hardness and Young's modulus were as high as about 30 GPa and 240 GPa, respectively. Hydrogen-free a-SiC films present both hardness and Young's modulus values higher by about 50% than those of hydrogenated a-SiC: H PECVD films. By using the FTIR absorption spectroscopy, we estimated the Si-C bond densities (NSiC) from the Si-C stretching absorption band (centered around 780 cm−1), and were thus able to correlate the observed mechanical behavior of a-SiC films to their microstructure. We indeed point out a constant-plus-linear variation of the hardness and Young's modulus upon the Si-C bond density, over the NSiC investigated range [(4–18) × 1022 bond · cm−3], regardless of the film composition or the deposition technique.



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Hardness and Young's modulus of amorphous a-SiC thin films determined by nanoindentation and bulge tests

  • M.A. El Khakani (a1), M. Chaker (a1), A. Jean (a1), S. Boily (a1), J.C. Kieffer (a1), M.E. O'Hern (a2), M.F. Ravet (a3) and F. Rousseaux (a3)...


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