Modifying the nanostructure and the mechanical properties of Mo2BC hard coatings: Influence of substrate temperature during magnetron sputtering

Gleich, S. and Soler, R. and Fager, H. and Bolvardi, H. and Achenbach, J.-O. and Hans, M. and Primetzhofer, D. and Schneider, J.M. and Dehm, G. and Scheu, C.

Volume: 142 Pages: 203-211
DOI: 10.1016/j.matdes.2018.01.029
Published: 2018

A reduction in synthesis temperature is favorable for hard coatings, which are designed for industrial applications, as manufacturing costs can be saved and technologically relevant substrate materials are often temperature-sensitive. In this study, we analyzed Mo2BC hard coatings deposited by direct current magnetron sputtering at different substrate temperatures, ranging from 380 °C to 630 °C. Transmission electron microscopy investigations revealed that a dense structure of columnar grains, which formed at a substrate temperature of 630 °C, continuously diminishes with decreasing substrate temperature. It almost vanishes in the coating deposited at 380 °C, which shows nanocrystals of ~1 nm in diameter embedded in an amorphous matrix. Moreover, Argon from the deposition process is incorporated in the film and its amount increases with decreasing substrate temperature. Nanoindentation experiments provided evidence that hardness and Young's modulus are modified by the nanostructure of the analyzed Mo2BC coatings. A substrate temperature rise from 380 °C to 630 °C resulted in an increase in hardness (21 GPa to 28 GPa) and Young's modulus (259 GPa to 462 GPa). We conclude that the substrate temperature determines the nanostructure and the associated changes in bond strength and stiffness and thus, influences hardness and Young's modulus of the coatings. © 2018 The Authors

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