Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 1553–1564 | Cite as

Mechanical properties of amorphous silicon carbonitride thin films at elevated temperatures

  • Radim CtvrtlikEmail author
  • Marwan S. Al-Haik
  • Valeriy Kulikovsky
Original Paper


The mechanical properties of amorphous silicon carbonitride (a-SiC x N y ) films with various nitrogen content (y = 0–40 at.%) were investigated in situ at elevated temperatures up to 650 °C in inert atmosphere. A SiC film was measured also at 700 °C in air. The hardness and elastic modulus were evaluated using instrumented nanoindentation with thermally stable cubic boron nitride Berkovich indenter. Both the sample and the indenter were separately heated during the experiments to temperatures of 300, 500, and 650 °C. Short duration high temperature creep tests (1200 s) of the films were also carried out. The results revealed that the room temperature hardness and elastic modulus deteriorate with the increase of the nitrogen content. Furthermore, the hardness of both the a-SiC and the a-SiCN films with lower nitrogen content at 300 °C drops to approx. 77 % of the corresponding room temperature values, while it reduces to 69 % for the a-SiCN film with 40 at.% of nitrogen. Further increase of temperature is accompanied with minor reduction in hardness except for the a-SiCN film with highest nitrogen content, where the hardness decreases at a much faster rate. Upon heating up to 500 °C, the elastic modulus of the a-SiCN film decreases, while it increases at 650 °C due to the pronounced effect of short-range ordering. The steady-state creep rate increases at elevated temperatures and the a-SiC exhibits slower creep rates compared to the a-SiCN films. The value of the universal constant x = 7 relating the W p/W t and H/E * was established and its applicability was demonstrated. Analysis of the experimental indentation data suggests a theoretical limit of hardness to elastic modulus ratio of 0.143.


Elastic Modulus High Nitrogen Content Nanoindentation Test Thermal Drift Nanoindentation Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work has been supported by the project LO1305 of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. Dr. Ctvrtlik also acknowledges the support through the Fulbright Scholar program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Radim Ctvrtlik
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marwan S. Al-Haik
    • 2
  • Valeriy Kulikovsky
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.RCPTM, Joint Laboratory of OpticsPalacky UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Engineering and MechanicsVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Institute of PhysicsAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrague 8Czech Republic
  4. 4.Institute for Problems of Materials ScienceAcademy of Sciences of UkraineKievUkraine

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