Mechanical properties and decohesion of sol–gel coatings
The sol–gel coating method is considered to be simple and easy to implement to lead to organic/inorganic hybrid coatings. In addition, the application of thin films by this technique is inexpensive and applicable on large substrates without form restriction.
In this context, thin sol–gel coatings based on a mixture of three alkoxysilanes and synthesised in purely aqueous phase with different thicknesses and with the presence or not of ZrO2 nanoparticles, were applied on metallic and glass substrates. After application and curing, the mechanical properties of sol–gel coatings were characterized by Berkovich nanoindentation with continuous stiffness measurement mode (CSM). The effective elastic moduli as well as the hardness values were estimated for each coating along the indentation depth and as a function of the substrate material and sol–gel characteristics. The effect of a annealing at higher temperature was also studied.
Careful microscopic observations
Then, the failure modes of sol–gel coatings were investigated using both Berkovich nanoindentation and nanoscratch technique with a 5 µm radius spherical diamond tip. Careful microscopic observations of residual imprints and residual grooves both exhibit chipping in case of thick coating especially on glass substrate and no dramatic failure for thin coating applied on both substrates.
After all it was shown that the mechanical properties of the sol–gel and the mechanical stability of coatings on substrates are influenced dramatically by the presence of nanoparticles and the thermal treatment.
The study can be found in Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, February 2020, Volume 93.
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