Mechanical properties of carbon-modified silicon oxide barrier films deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition on polymer substrates
Cohesive and adhesive properties of silicon oxide barrier coatings deposited from an oxygen/hexamethyldisiloxane gas mixture by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, with controlled incorporation of carbon on 12 mm thick polyethylene terephtalate films were investigated. The reactor was equipped with a 2.45 GHz slot antenna plasma source and a 13.56 MHz-biased substrate holder. The two plasma sources were operated separately or in dual mode. It was found that no or negligible internal stresses were introduced in the silicon oxide coatings as long as the increase of energy experienced by the film was compensated by the densification of the oxide. For a range of process parameters and carbon content on the changes of the crack onset strain, adhesion, and cohesion were found to be similar. Generally a high crack onset strain or good adhesion and cohesion were measured for films with an increased carbon content, although this was obtained at the expense of the gas barrier performance. Promising approaches towards high-barrier thin films with good mechanical integrity are proposed, based on coatings with a gradient in the carbon content and in the mechanical properties, on nano-composite laminates, and on organosilane treatments.