Interfacial phenomena, such as adhesion, friction, and wear, can dominate the performance and reliability of microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices. Here, thin films made by atomic layer deposition (ALD) were tested for their tribological properties. Tribological tests were carried out with silicon counterpart sliding against ALD thin films in order to simulate the contacts occurring in the MEMS devices. The counterpart was sliding in a linear reciprocating motion against the ALD films with the total sliding distances of 5 and 20 m. Al2O3 and TiO2 coatings with different deposition temperatures were investigated in addition to Al2O3-TiO2-nanolaminate, TiN, NbN, TiAlCN, a-C:H [diamondlike carbon (DLC)] coatings, and uncoated Si. The formation of the tribolayer in the contact area was the dominating phenomenon for friction and wear performance. Hardness, elastic modulus, and crystallinity of the materials were also investigated. The nitride coatings had the most favorable friction and wear performance of the ALD coatings, yet lower friction coefficient was measured with DLC a-C:H coating. These results help us to take steps toward improved coating solutions in, e.g., MEMS applications.

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