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Effect of Carbon Configuration on Mechanical, Friction and Wear Behavior of Nitrogen-Doped Diamond-Like Carbon Films for Magnetic Storage Applications


A high temperature mechanical and tribological study was performed to investigate the dependence of friction, wear and mechanical properties of ultra-thin nitrogen-doped diamond-like carbon (NDLC) films on their sp2/sp3 carbon configurations. Two NDLC films with the same thickness of 3 nm, almost the same nitrogen content, and different sp2/sp3 carbon ratios of 53% and 49% were deposited on FeCo/glass substrates. Heating to 300 °C led to partial reduction in sp3 carbon content of NDLCs, ending up with a softer layer. NDLC with 49% sp2/sp3 carbon ratio showed better mechanical properties at 300 °C and 25 °C before and after heat treatments, indicating that the lower the sp2/sp3 carbon ratio, the better the mechanical properties. The same NDLC also showed lower coefficient of friction because of lower sp2 carbon content. Wear tests revealed that NDLC with 49% sp2/sp3 carbon ratio also had better wear resistance at 300 °C because of improved mechanical properties. However, both NDLCs were not delaminated during wear tests at 300 °C and the average wear depths were less than 1 nm, which also indicated robustness and durability of the NDLC films.

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The authors would like to especially thank Drs. H. Tang, H. Wang, C. Platt and X. Li for sample preparation and helpful discussions. The XPS study was performed at Materials Characterization Facility (MCF), located at Texas A&M University.


The motivation of this work was through a sponsored research project from Seagate Technology LLC, through Grant No. SRA-32724.

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Correspondence to Andreas A. Polycarpou.

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Shakil, A., Amiri, A. & Polycarpou, A.A. Effect of Carbon Configuration on Mechanical, Friction and Wear Behavior of Nitrogen-Doped Diamond-Like Carbon Films for Magnetic Storage Applications. Tribol Lett 69, 151 (2021).

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  • Friction
  • Wear
  • Diamond-like carbon
  • Nitrogen doping
  • Magnetic storage
  • HAMR
  • Head disk interface