Characterisation of R.F. magnetron sputtered Cr-N, Cr-Zr-N and Zr-N coatings
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Binary Cr-N, Zr-N and Cr-Zr-N films were synthesised using a R.F. reactive magnetron sputtering technique by co-sputtering Cr and Zr. The crystalline structure, morphology, mechanical and tribological properties of the films as a function of Zr content were characterised by X-ray diffraction, microanalysis X (WDS, EDS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, nanoindentation, scratch adhesion and pin-on-disc sliding wear tests. The residual stress was calculated with the Stoney formula. The Cr-Zr-N films exhibit a two-phase microstructure, containing a cubic (CrN, ZrN) with hexagonal (Cr2N, Zr2N) phases, as shown by X-ray diffraction. As the Zr content increased, a columnar and compact structure is developed with a low surface roughness. The results reveal that the mechanical and tribological properties of the films were found to depend on the Zr content and the hardness (maximum 26.3 GPa) is greatly improved in comparison with CrN and ZrN films, especially at 31 at.-% Zr. In the scratch test, the hardest film (Cr0.18Zr0.31N0.47) exhibited an adhesive failure at Lc2 = 34.3 N.
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