Wear causes surfaces to be irreversibly damaged, thereby incurring significant economic cost, for instance in the semiconductor industry. Much progress has been made in describing wear at single asperity interfaces between silicon based materials (Si, SiOx, Si3N4), translating the fundamental understanding of wear into wear predictions and control over wear. Yet, predicting and controlling wear at industrially relevant multi-asperity interfaces remains a challenge, especially when considering the wear of the harder material subjected to repeated, nanometric scale displacement. We studied pre-sliding Si3N4-on-Si wear using the atomic force microscopy topography difference method and showed that the harder Si3N4 wears through either atomic attrition or ductile removal enhanced by subsurface damage, depending on the magnitude of the local Si3N4-on-Si contact pressure. Our methods and results bridge fundamental insight into wear based on nanoscale studies to industrial applications

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Elsevier BV
Contact Dynamics

Leriche, C., Xiao, C., Franklin, S., & Weber, B. (2023). From atomic attrition to mild wear at multi-asperity interfaces: The wear of hard Si3N4 repeatedly contacted against soft Si. Wear, 528-529, 204975: 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.wear.2023.204975