Microstructure, hardness and toughness of boron carbide thin films deposited by pulse dc magnetron sputtering

Chen Wang, Yanqing Yang*, Yip Wah Chung, Yingchun Zhang, Sheng Ouyang, Zhiyuan Xiao, Kexin Song, Pengtao Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Boron carbide thin films were deposited on (100) silicon substrates at ambient temperature via. pulse dc magnetron sputtering. Various frequency and duty cycles were applied to the hot-pressed B4C target in order to understand their influence on the structure and mechanical properties of the B4C films. X-ray Energy dispersive spectrum, Raman spectroscopy and Transmission electronic microscopy were used to characterize the composition and microstructure of the films. Nanoindenter was employed to measure the hardness and modulus. The film toughness was evaluated by a microindentation method. The results show that both pulse frequency and duty cycle significantly affect the B/C atomic ratio and then hardness and modulus in the boron carbide films. However, the amorphous structure of the films was maintained when the frequency and duty cycle changed. The maximum hardness of 29 GPa and modulus of 247 GPa combined with relative high toughness (3.3 MPa m1/2) were achieved under 50 kHz frequency and 30% duty cycle. In addition, there was no evidence to prove that the graphite phase existed in the B4C films although exceeded C concentration was detected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6342-6346
Number of pages5
JournalCeramics International
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Amorphous boron carbide thin films
  • Hardness
  • Pulse dc magnetron sputtering
  • Toughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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