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Zinc oxide has justifiably been attracting attention in several fields, and the relatively new field of tribology is not left out. Aside from its already extensively researched and documented applications in materials science, semiconductor and electronics industry, zinc oxide nanoparticles and thin films appear to be gaining fast grounds as tribological materials, thereby justifying a zealous approach in further exploring their inherent properties in this area. In this work, zinc oxide thin films were deposited by MOCVD (metal-organic chemical vapour deposition) on soda lime glass and AISI304L stainless steel plates at temperatures of 300°C, 330°C, 360°C, 390°C and 420°C respectively, using anhydrous zinc acetate as the precursor. The carrier gas was air with a flow rate of 2.5 dm3min-1 at atmospheric pressure, and deposition time of 2 hours each. The thickness and tribological properties of the thin films produced were thereafter investigated. The thickness was measured by RBS (Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy) using a 1.7 MeV Tandem Accelerator, and the friction and wear properties were tested with a HFRR (high frequency reciprocating rig) under dry contact conditions, Olympus BH-2 Optical Microscope, and ADE Phase Shift MicroXam Optical Surface Profiler. The thickness was found to decrease with increasing deposition temperature, although for the 300°C deposition temperature there appeared to be a bloated thickness, which is attributable to such factors as incomplete precursor decomposition, turbulence in precursor flow, and energy straggling during RBS measurement. The friction tests highlighted coefficients of friction which were relatively low at the onset of the tests, but thereafter rapidly increased, owing possibly to temperature rise, attendant rapid oxidation and aided abrasion by worn debris. The average coefficient of friction of each test was computed, and the outcome (0.33 – 0.43) for all of them was a material still good enough for use in reducing friction at nanolevel, even with worn out matter and increased working temperature, with no noticeable trend regarding their varied deposition temperatures. Microscope and profilometer profiles vividly showed wear scars with material removal and material transfer. The average wear scar diameters as well as the wear volumes were compiled for both the test balls and the thin films. The result showed a largely correlated trend in the wear scar diameters and the wear volumes, and the thin film deposited at 330°C was the coating with the least wear scars, material removal cum transfer on the test ball and sample. This result is attributed to the enhanced thickness of the sample over the others, apart from sample X1 earlier reported to have a problem in its thickness. This temperature is therefore recommended as the optimum deposition temperature for the best tribologically applicable zinc oxide thin films, using zinc acetate precursor by MOCVD.
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