Mechanical and optical characterization of tungsten oxynitride (W-O-N) nano-coatings

Oscar Roberto Nunez, University of Texas at El Paso


Aation and cation doping of transition metal oxides has recently gained attention as a viable option to design materials for application in solar energy conversion, photo-catalysis, transparent electrodes, photo-electrochemical cells, electrochromics and flat panel displays in optoelectronics. Specifically, nitrogen doped tungsten oxide (WO3) has gained much attention for its ability to facilitate optical property tuning while also demonstrating enhanced photo-catalytic and photochemical properties. The effect of nitrogen chemistry and mechanics on the optical and mechanical properties of tungsten oxynitride (W-O-N) nano-coatings is studied in detail in this work. The W-O-N coatings were deposited by direct current (DC) sputtering to a thickness of ∼100 nm and the structural, compositional, optical and mechanical properties were characterized in order to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of nitrogen incorporation and chemical composition. All the W-O-N coatings fabricated under variable nitrogen gas flow rate were amorphous. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) measurements revealed that nitrogen incorporation is effective only for a nitrogen gas flow rates ?9 sccm. Optical characterization using ultraviolet-visible-near infrared (UV-VIS-NIR) spectroscopy and spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) indicate that the nitrogen incorporation induced effects on the optical parameters is significant. The band gap (Eg) values decreased from ∼2.99 eV to ∼1.89 eV indicating a transition from insulating WO3 to metallic-like W-N phase. Nano-mechanical characterization using indentation revealed a corresponding change in mechanical properties; maximum values of 4.46 GPa and 98.5 GPa were noted for hardness and Young?s modulus, respectively. The results demonstrate a clear relationship between the mechanical, physical and optical properties of amorphous W-O-N nano-coatings. The correlation presented in this thesis could provide a road-map to optimize and produce W-O-N nano-coatings with desired optical and mechanical properties for a given technological application in the field where structure, mechanical and optical properties are important.

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Recommended Citation

Nunez, Oscar Roberto, "Mechanical and optical characterization of tungsten oxynitride (W-O-N) nano-coatings" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10000805.