Nanoindentation and atomic force microscopy measurements on reactively sputtered TiN coatings
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Titanium nitride (TiN) coatings were deposited by d.c. reactive magnetron sputtering process. The films were deposited on silicon (111) substrates at various process conditions, e.g. substrate bias voltage (VB) and nitrogen partial pressure. Mechanical properties of the coatings were investigated by a nanoindentation technique. Force vs displacement curves generated during loading and unloading of a Berkovich diamond indenter were used to determine the hardness (H) and Young’s modulus (Y) of the films. Detailed investigations on the role of substrate bias and nitrogen partial pressure on the mechanical properties of the coatings are presented in this paper. Considerable improvement in the hardness was observed when negative bias voltage was increased from 100–250 V. Films deposited at |V B| = 250 V exhibited hardness as high as 3300 kg/mm2. This increase in hardness has been attributed to ion bombardment during the deposition. The ion bombardment considerably affects the microstructure of the coatings. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) of the coatings revealed fine-grained morphology for the films prepared at higher substrate bias voltage. The hardness of the coatings was found to increase with a decrease in nitrogen partial pressure.
KeywordsTiN coatings reactive magnetron sputtering mechanical properties nanoindentation measurements atomic force microscopy
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