Tribological durability of silane monolayers on silicon

Brandon D. Booth, Steven G. Vilt, J. Ben Lewis, José L. Rivera, Edward A. Buehler, Clare McCabe, G. Kane Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


We report the frictional performance and longterm tribological stability of various alkyl silane monolayer films on silicon by using pin-on-disk tribometry at ambient conditions. We show that the durability of monolayers derived from n-alkyltrichlorosilanes on silicon increases exponentially with the chain length of the silane precursor, which we relate to the cohesive energy of these monolayers through molecular dynamics simulations. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was used to show that tribological damage consisted of the loss of molecular components that could be partially replaced upon exposure to a solution containing perfluorinated silane precursors. For monolayers derived from n-octadecyltrichlorosilane, a critical load was identified to be approximately 250 mN (200 MPa), above which failure of films occurred within 100 cycles of testing. Monolayers with hydroxyl surfaces exhibited reduced stabilities due to stronger tip-surface interactions. Monolayers with the capability for cross-linking exhibited much greater stabilities than monolayers where cross-linking was limited or prevented. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the mechanical durability of monolayers when subjected to a tribological load is greatly enhanced by maximizing dispersional interactions and cross-linking and minimizing tip-surface interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5909-5917
Number of pages9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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