Influence of the bias voltage on the structure and mechanical performance of nanoscale multilayer CrAlYN/CrN physical vapor deposition coatings

G Safran, C Reinhard, AP Ehiasarian, PB Barna, L Szekely, O Geszti, PE Hovsepian

Research output: Contribution to journal β€Ί Article β€Ί peer-review


The effects of bias voltage on the microstructure and the related tribological properties of CrAlYNβˆ•CrN nanoscale multilayer superlattice coatings were investigated. The coatings were deposited at 450Β°C substrate temperature by combined high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS) and unbalanced magnetron sputtering techniques. The substrates were 304 stainless steel, M2 high speed steel for structural analysis and mechanical testing, as well as cemented carbide substrates end mills for dry high speed milling applications. Substrates were pretreated by HIPIMS etching. The bias voltage π‘ˆπ‘ was varied between βˆ’75 and βˆ’150V. The chemical composition was determined by neutral mass spectroscopy. The microstructure was characterized by x-ray diffraction and cross sectional transmission electron microscopy. All coatings had a single phase 𝐡1 fcc structure. The chemical composition was not affected by the bias voltage. Local epitaxial or axiotaxial growth attributed to the HIPIMS etching pretreatment was observed on the large surface areas of the substrate crystals. This turned to columnar growth with {110} texture at low bias voltages π‘ˆπ‘ between βˆ’75 and βˆ’120V, while at π‘ˆπ‘=βˆ’150V an equiaxed structure of large crystal sizes developed with {111} texture. At the same time the waviness of the superlattice significantly decreased. An increase in bias voltage resulted in a significant rise in both residual stress levels (from βˆ’3.3toβˆ’9.5GPa) and plastic hardness (from 𝐻𝑝=34–51GPa), while the coating/substrate adhesion decreased from 61to45N. The friction coefficient increased from 0.43 (at π‘ˆπ‘=βˆ’75V) to 0.55 (at π‘ˆπ΅=βˆ’120V), while the initial sliding wear rates decreased remarkably (2.6Γ—10βˆ’16m3Nβˆ’1mβˆ’1 at π‘ˆπ΅=βˆ’75V to 3.7Γ—10βˆ’17m3Nβˆ’1mβˆ’1 at π‘ˆπ‘=βˆ’150V). The life time of 8mm ball-nosed cemented carbide end mills decreased from 39min at π‘ˆπ‘=βˆ’75V to 19min when π‘ˆπ‘ was raised to βˆ’150V. These results highlight that the combination of HIPIMS substrate treatment and designed deposition parameters provides good opportunity to tailor coating structures with optimized properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science & Technology A
Issue number2
Early online date6 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • X-ray diffraction
  • Adhesion
  • Aluminium compounds
  • Chromium compounds
  • Coatings
  • Crystal microstructure
  • Etching
  • Friction
  • Hardness
  • Internal stresses
  • Mass spectroscopic chemical analysis
  • Mechanical testing
  • Multilayers
  • Nanostructured materials
  • Plasticity
  • Sputter deposition
  • Stainless steel
  • Superlattices
  • Surface texture
  • Transmission electron microscopy
  • Tribology
  • Vapour deposited coatings
  • Wear


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