A triple torch plasma reactor was used to synthesize Si—C—N composite films via the thermal plasma chemical vapor deposition process. The argon-nitrogen plasma provided atomic nitrogen to carbon- and silicon-based reactants, which were injected through a central injection probe and ring configuration. Films were deposited with variations of the total nitrogen flow through the torches (1.5-4.5slm), reactant mixture (silicon tetrachloride and acetylene or hexamethyldisilazane) and substrate material (silicon and molybdenum). Micro X-ray diffraction was used to determine that both α-Si3N4 and β-Si3N4 were dominant in most of the depositions. Composites of silicon nitride and silicon carbide were synthesized on molybdenum. The bonding of amorphous phases was investigated using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, which indicated the presence of N—H, CHx and CΞ in various films. Indentation tests on the polished film cross-sections determined that large variations in hardness and elastic modulus existed for minor changes in film composition. Correlations between indentation results and scanning electron and optical microscope images showed that the mechanical properties greatly depend on the film morphology; the denser, smoother, and more crystalline films tended to display enhanced mechanical properties.