In this article the effects induced by exposure of sol-gel thin films to hard X-rays have been studied. Thin films of silica and hybrid organic-inorganic silica have been prepared via dip-coating and the materials were exposed immediately after preparation to an intense source of light of several keV generated by a synchrotron source. The samples were exposed to increasing doses and the effects of the radiation have been evaluated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry and atomic force microscopy. The X-ray beam induces a significant densification on the silica films without producing any degradation such as cracks, flaws or delamination at the interface. The densification is accompanied by a decrease in thickness and an increase in refractive index both in the pure silica and in the hybrid films. The effect on the hybrid material is to induce densification through reaction of silanol groups but also removal of the organic groups, which are covalently bonded to silicon via Si-C bonds. At the highest exposure dose the removal of the organic groups is complete and the film becomes pure silica. Hard X-rays can be used as an efficient and direct writing tool to pattern coating layers of different types of compositions
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