Synthesis of Coatings With Hardness Exceeding 40 GPa by Magnetron Sputtering

[+] Author and Article Information
Mei-Ling Wu, Zunde Yang, Yip-Wah Chung

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208

Ming-Show Wong, William D. Sproul

BIRL Industrial Research Laboratory, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60201

J. Tribol 120(2), 179-183 (Apr 01, 1998) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2834406 History: Received December 03, 1996; Revised April 07, 1997; Online January 24, 2008


Single- and dual-cathode DC magnetron sputtering was used to produce TiB2 coatings and CNx /ZrN multilayers, respectively, with hardness exceeding 40 GPa. The composition, structure, topography, and mechanical properties were determined by various techniques, including Auger electron spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, high-resolution electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and nanoindentation. An optimum combination of the sputtering pressure and substrate bias results in the production of ultrasmooth TiB2 coatings with hardness up to 50 GPa and excellent wetting properties. The rationale for studying the CNx /ZrN system is that ZrN(111) provides excellent lattice match to the hypothetical β-C3 N4 (0001) face (β-C3 N4 was predicted to have mechanical properties comparable to diamond). Using a dual-cathode sputtering system, we produced crystalline multilayers of CNx /ZrN with bilayer thickness of 1–2 nm. Using various combinations of nitrogen partial pressure, target powers, and substrate bias, we found that the hardness of these coatings correlates very strongly with the occurrence of (111) texture of ZrN, consistent with the lattice-match strategy. Even with a ZrN volume fraction of 70 percent, such multilayer coatings have been synthesized with hardness in the 50 GPa regime.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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