Effects of the Ion to Growth Flux Ratio on the Constitution and Mechanical Properties of Cr1- x-Alx-N Thin Films

Banko, L. and Ries, S. and Grochla, D. and Arghavani, M. and Salomon, S. and Pfetzing-Micklich, J. and Kostka, A. and Rogalla, D. and Schulze, J. and Awakowicz, P. and Ludwig, Al.

Volume: 21 Pages: 782-793
DOI: 10.1021/acscombsci.9b00123
Published: 2019

Cr-Al-N thin film materials libraries were synthesized by combinatorial reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS). Different HiPIMS repetition frequencies and peak power densities were applied altering the ion to growth flux ratio. Moreover, time-resolved ion energy distribution functions were measured with a retarding field energy analyzer (RFEA). The plasma properties were measured during the growth of films with different compositions within the materials library and correlated to the resulting film properties such as phase, grain size, texture, indentation modulus, indentation hardness, and residual stress. The influence of the ion to growth flux ratio on the film properties was most significant for films with high Al-content (xAl = 50 at. %). X-ray diffraction with a 2D detector revealed hcp-AlN precipitation starting from Al-concentration xAl ≥ 50 at. %. This precipitation might be related to the kinetically enhanced adatom mobility for a high ratio of ions per deposited atoms, leading to strong intermixing of the deposited species. A structure zone transition, induced by composition and flux ratio JI/JG, from zone T to zone Ic structure was observed which hints toward the conclusion that the combination of increasing flux ratio and Al-concentration lead to opposing trends regarding the increase in homologous temperature. © 2019 American Chemical Society.

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