Nano-structured CrN/CNx multilayer films deposited by magnetron sputtering

A. Vyas, Y. G. Shen, Z. F. Zhou, K. Y. Li

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57 Citations (Scopus)


CrN/CNx nano-scale multilayered films have been grown on both Si(1 0 0) and high speed steel substrates (HSS) by closed-field unbalanced magnetron sputtering. Designed experimental parameters enabled an evaluation of the effects of negative substrate bias voltage (Vb), and bi-layer thickness λ (by changing substrate rotation rate) during deposition on the structural and mechanical properties of reactively sputtered CrN/CNx multilayer thin films. In all cases, the CNx layers prepared at OEM = 55% were amorphous independent of Vb, while the microstructures of the CrN layers were dependent primarily on Vb. The CrN layers showed a mixed structure phase consisting of CrN, Cr2N, and Cr at Vb = -(40-120) V. At higher Vb values (-140 V or above), the Cr2N phase was dominant along with low CrN phase content. AFM measurements revealed that the root-mean-square (rms) surface roughness of the CrN/CNx film was 2.5 nm at Vb = -200 V whereas the rms values were about 9.5-3.3 2 nm for lower Vb values of -(40-180 V). By nanoindentation measurements, a maximum hardness of ∼36 GPa was observed in a film prepared at Vb = -140 V. The improved mechanical properties of the CrN/CNx multilayer films are correlated to the phase formation during deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2922-2929
Number of pages8
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • A. CrN/CN layered structures
  • B. Mechanical properties
  • D. Photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
  • D. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • D. X-ray diffraction (XRD)


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