High-Strength Amorphous Silicon Carbide for Nanomechanics

Minxing Xu, Dongil Shin, Paolo M. Sberna, Roald van der Kolk, Andrea Cupertino, Miguel A. Bessa*, Richard A. Norte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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For decades, mechanical resonators with high sensitivity have been realized using thin-film materials under high tensile loads. Although there are remarkable strides in achieving low-dissipation mechanical sensors by utilizing high tensile stress, the performance of even the best strategy is limited by the tensile fracture strength of the resonator materials. In this study, a wafer-scale amorphous thin film is uncovered, which has the highest ultimate tensile strength ever measured for a nanostructured amorphous material. This silicon carbide (SiC) material exhibits an ultimate tensile strength of over 10 GPa, reaching the regime reserved for strong crystalline materials and approaching levels experimentally shown in graphene nanoribbons. Amorphous SiC strings with high aspect ratios are fabricated, with mechanical modes exceeding quality factors 108 at room temperature, the highest value achieves among SiC resonators. These performances are demonstrated faithfully after characterizing the mechanical properties of the thin film using the resonance behaviors of free-standing resonators. This robust thin-film material has significant potential for applications in nanomechanical sensors, solar cells, biological applications, space exploration, and other areas requiring strength and stability in dynamic environments. The findings of this study open up new possibilities for the use of amorphous thin-film materials in high-performance applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2306513
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • amorphous silicon carbide
  • high mechanical quality factor
  • ultimate tensile strength


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