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Research Article | Open Access

Characterization of the tribologically relevant cover layers formed on copper in oxygen and oxygen-free conditions

Selina RAUMEL1( )Khemais BARIENTI2Hoang-Thien LUU3Nina MERKERT3Folke DENCKER1Florian NÜRNBERGER2Hans Jürgen MAIER2Marc Christopher WURZ1
Institute of Micro Production Technology, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Garbsen 30823, Germany
Institut für Werkstoffkunde (Materials Science), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Garbsen 30823, Germany
Institute of Applied Mechanics, Clausthal University of Technology, Clausthal-Zellerfeld 38678, Germany
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Engineering in vacuum or under a protective atmosphere permits the production of materials, wherever the absence of oxygen is an essential demand for a successful processing. However, very few studies have provided quantitative evidence of the effect of oxidized surfaces to tribological properties. In the current study on 99.99% pure copper, it is revealed that tribo-oxidation and the resulting increased abrasive wear can be suppressed by processing in an extreme high vacuum (XHV) adequate environment. The XHV adequate atmosphere was realized by using a silane-doped shielding gas (1.5 vol% SiH4 in argon). To analyse the influence of the ambient atmosphere on the tribological and mechanical properties, a ball–disk tribometer and a nanoindenter were used in air, argon, and silane-doped argon atmosphere for temperatures up to 800 °C. Resistance measurements of the resulting coatings were carried out. To characterize the microstructures and the chemical compositions of the samples, the scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) were used. The investigations have revealed a formation of η-Cu3Si in silane-doped atmosphere at 300 °C, as well as various intermediate stages of copper silicides. At temperatures above 300 °C, the formation of γ-Cu5Si were detected. The formation was linked to an increase in hardness from 1.95 to 5.44 GPa, while the Young’s modulus increased by 46% to 178 GPa, with the significant reduction of the wear volume by a factor of 4.5 and the suppression of further oxidation and susceptibility of chemical wear. In addition, the relevant diffusion processes were identified using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations.

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Cite this article:
RAUMEL S, BARIENTI K, LUU H-T, et al. Characterization of the tribologically relevant cover layers formed on copper in oxygen and oxygen-free conditions. Friction, 2023, 11(8): 1505-1521.








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Received: 08 April 2022
Revised: 21 July 2022
Accepted: 14 September 2022
Published: 03 February 2023
© The author(s) 2022.

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