Superhard coating materials

Yip Wah Chung*, William D. Sproul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


"Superhard" coating materials are defined by hardness values that exceed 40 GPa. In this Issue of MRS Bulletin, we focus on noncarbon-based superhard coatings, with the exception of a review of carbon nitride (CN) materials, Nanometer-scale multilayered nitride coatings were the first to show the superhard property, and these coatings have quickly made their way into industry as protective coatings for cutting-tool operations. Nanocomposite thin films also exhibit superhardness, and some of these materials have hardnesses approaching that of diamond Cubic boron nitride (c-BN), which Is naturally superhard, has proven very difficult to deposit at thicknesses exceeding 0.1 μm, but It is now reported that chemical vapor deposition techniques based on fluorine chemistries can produce c-BN films up to 20 μm thick. The search to produce cubic β-CN has led to the development of noncubic, fullerene-like forms of CN that are both hard and elastic, a very Interesting combination of properties that has already been put to use in the hard-disk industry. Overall, the development of hard and superhard coatings during the past 20 years has been remarkable. We have progressed from trying (and often failing) to deposit hard coatings to now designing new nanometer-scale multilayered and nanocomposite coatings that exhibit excellent hardness properties and other high-performance characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-165
Number of pages2
JournalMRS Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Carbon nitride
  • Cubic boron nitride
  • Nanocomposites
  • Nanometer-scale multilayered coatings
  • Superhard coating materials
  • Superhard oxide materials
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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