Effect of coating thickness on the deformation behaviour of diamond-like carbon silicon system
The effect of coating thickness on the deformation behaviour of diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings on silicon substrates was investigated. Following nanoindentation of a 0.6 µm thick DLC coating, the subsurface microstructures were characterized and the data was compared to prior studies on a similar, but thicker coating. Indentation resulted in localized plastic compression in the coating without any through-thickness cracking. It was shown that the discontinuities in the load–displacement curves appeared at lower loads for the thinner coating. Accordingly, the silicon substrate exhibited cracking, plastic deformation and phase transformation at significantly lower loads than in the case of the thicker coating. Further, the widths, parallel to the interface, over which slip and the phase transformation zone are spread out in the substrate, was found to increase with the thickness of the coating. The mechanism responsible for the first pop-in was found to change from phase transformation in uncoated silicon to dislocation nucleation in the presence of the coating.