Optimum film thickness of thin metallic coatings on silicon substrates for low load sliding applications

Dong Seob Jang, Dae Eun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The frictional behaviour of thin metallic films on silicon substrates sliding against 52100 steel balls is presented. The motivation of this work is to identify an optimum film thickness that will result in low friction under relatively low loads for various metallic films. Dry sliding friction experiments on silicon substrates with soft metallic coatings (silver, copper, tin and zinc) of various thickness (1-2000 nm) were conducted using a reciprocating pin-on-flat type apparatus under a controlled environment. A thermal vapour deposition technique was used to produce pure and smooth coatings. The morphology of the films was examined using an atomic force microscope, a non-contact optical profilometer and a scanning electron microscope. Following the sliding tests, the sliding tracks were examined by various surface characterization techniques and tools. The results indicate that the frictional characteristics of silicon are improved by coating the surface with a thin metallic film, and furthermore, an optimum film thickness can be identified for silver, copper and zinc coatings. In most cases ploughing marks could be found on the film which suggests that plastic deformation of the film is the dominant mode by which frictional energy dissipation occurred. Based on this observation, the frictional behaviour of thin metallic coatings under low loads is discussed and friction coefficients are correlated with an energy based friction model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalTribology International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Professor D. Rigney at the Ohio State University, Materials Science and Engineering Department, for his helpful comments. We would also like to thank Professor B. Bhushan at the Ohio State University, Mechanical Engineering Department, for use of the AFM and a non-contact surface profilometer. This study was partly supported by the Center for Materials Research in the Ohio State University.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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