Reactive unbalanced magnetron sputter deposition of polycrystalline TiN/NbN superlattice coatings

X. Chu*, Scott A Barnett, M. S. Wong, W. D. Sproul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


An opposed dual-cathode unbalanced magnetron sputtering system was used to deposit polycrystalline TiN/NbN superlattice coatings, with periods between 2.5 nm and 150 nm, on M2 tool steel substrates. Analytical techniques including X-ray diffraction. Auger spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy were used to characterize the structure of the superlattice coatings. These showed that well-defined TiN and NbN layers were obtained, but the interfaces were not perfectly planar or abrupt. The mechanical properties of the superlattice coatings were characterized using a Vickers' microhardness tester and scratch tester. Microhardness values for the 6 μm thick superlattice coatings ranged from 1800 to 5200 kgf mm-2 (Hr 0.05) and were strongly dependent on several deposition parameters such as superlattice period λ, nitrogen partial pressure, the ratio of gas flow to each target, and the negative substrate bias Vs. The highest hardness values were obtained for λ≈6 nm and Vs=150 V. The scratch adhesion critical load of superlattice coatings ranged from 1.8 kgf at Vs=200 V to 11 kfg at Vs=34 V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-18
Number of pages6
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 23 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Reactive unbalanced magnetron sputter deposition of polycrystalline TiN/NbN superlattice coatings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this