Zinc titanate (ZnTiO3) thin films grown by atomic layer deposition with ilmenite structure have recently been identified as an excellent solid lubricant, where low interfacial shear and friction are achieved due to intrafilm shear velocity accommodation in sliding contacts. In this Letter, high resolution transmission electron microscopy with electron diffraction revealed that extensive stacking faults are present on ZnTiO3 textured (104) planes. These growth stacking faults serve as a pathway for dislocations to glide parallel to the sliding direction and hence achieve low interfacial shear/friction. Generalized stacking fault energy plots also known as γ-surfaces were computed for the (104) surface of ZnTiO3 using energy minimization method with classical effective partial charge potential and verified by using density functional theory first principles calculations for stacking fault energies along certain directions. These two are in qualitative agreement but classical simulations generally overestimate the energies. In addition, the lowest energy path was determined to be along the [451¯] direction and the most favorable glide system is {104} ⟨451¯⟩ that is responsible for the experimentally observed sliding-induced ductility.

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