Scratch response and tribological behaviour of CrAlNiN coatings deposited by closed field unbalanced magnetron sputtering system

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Chuhan Sha
  • Zhifeng Zhou
  • Zonghan Xie
  • Paul Munroe

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-40
Journal / PublicationSurface and Coatings Technology
Online published26 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


CrAlNiN coatings were deposited on M2 tool steels using closed-field unbalanced magnetron sputtering. The coating microstructure transformed from coarse columnar grains to fine equiaxed grains with increasing Ni content, which was accompanied by a general decrease in both hardness (H) and elastic modulus (Er ) values. The scratch tests showed both scratch toughness and adhesion strength were improved for coatings with higher ratios of H/Er and H3/Er2 , whereby higher critical loads (LC1 and LC2 ) are required to initiate cohesive and adhesive failure. For the coatings with coarser columnar grains, the improved scratch toughness may be ascribed to tortuous crack deflection patterns. Improved wear resistance was found in the columnar grained coatings, which also exhibited the higher H/Er and H3/Er2 values. The inferior wear resistance in the equiaxed grained coatings was suggested to arise from these coatings being more susceptible to grain pull-out processes during abrasive sliding. The wear debris composed of tribo-oxides serving as additional capacity for load bearing via re-distribution of the applied stress. This was believed to boost the wear resistance of the coatings.

Research Area(s)

  • Chromium aluminium nickel nitride, Magnetron sputtering, Mechanical properties, Microstructure, Scratch response, Wear resistance

Citation Format(s)