Formation of nano-crystalline chromium-zirconium nitride (Cr-Zr-N) film coating by DC unbalanced magnetron sputtering
Keywords:Nano-crystalline, Cr-Zr-N, Magnetron sputtering, PVD, Film-coating
This research aimed to improve the properties of chromium nitride (CrN) film coatings by addition of zirconium (Zr) as the third element to form Cr-Zr-N ternary nitride. DC unbalanced magnetron sputtering method was used to form Cr-Zr-N film with various Zr/Zr + Cr atomic ratios. Mechanical properties, surface morphology and crystal structure of the film were investigated. In the research, Cr-Zr-N film were categorised into 3 types with different Zr amount: low zirconium, (Zr/Zr + Cr = 0.29), medium zirconium (Zr/Zr + Cr = 0.44), and high zirconium (Zr/Zr + Cr = 0.74). All Cr-Zr-N films exhibited nano-crystalline structures with lower surface roughnesses than those of crystalline CrN film. With Zr addition, the highest hardness of Cr-Zr-N coating layer increased to 1762.7HV, in the low Zr film. Likewise, Young’s modulus value increased from 213.9 GPa for the Cr-N film to 269.0 GPa for the low Zr film. Both surface hardness and Young’s modulus slightly decreased when the amount of Zr in the ternary Cr-Zr-N film increased. The nano-crystalline Cr-Zr-N film exhibited better adhesion comparing to the binary Cr-N film. Scratch test showed the increased critical load (LC1) from 1.91 N for the CrN film to 3.21 N for the ternary Cr-Zr-N film.
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