Friction and wear at nanometer scale: A comparative study of hard carbon films

R. Prioli, M. Chhowalla, F. L. Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Tribological properties of nanostructured carbon (ns-C) and tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) thin films were investigated by friction force microscopy. It was found that the ns-C films have a smaller friction coefficient than ta-C films for relative humidity greater than 30%. In particular, at 40% of humidity, ns-C films have lower friction coefficient (0.11±0.02) than the ta-C films (0.13±0.02), which can be attributed to both the presence of closed graphite nanoparticles and the passivation of the dangling bonds at the ns-C surface. The friction coefficient did not vary as a function of the tip scanning velocity for both films. The nanoscale wear was studied in a very low force regime, in the range of nanonewton, using an atomic force microscope (AFM) with a Si3N4 tip and with forces in the range of micronewton with the AFM equipped with a stainless still cantilever and a diamond tip. The ns-C provides better wear resistance compared to ta-C films in the range of forces studied. The sp2-rich ta-C surface layer was easily scratched during the wear test in contrast to the ns-C films. The wear in ta-C in the low forces regime is attributed to the presence of this low density layer at the surface of the film due to subplantation of energetic ions during deposition while the better resistance to wear of ns-C films is attributed to its highly elastic nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2195-2202
Number of pages8
JournalDiamond and Related Materials
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Nanostructures
  • Scanning probes techniques
  • Tetrahedral amorphous carbon
  • Tribology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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