Interface Growth Morphologies in Pulsed Laser Deposited, Room Temperature grown Multilayer Hard Coatings
Publication from Materials
Surf. Coat. Tech. 201 (7), pp. 4090-4093, 2006
The mechanical behaviour – hardness, elasticity, and adhesion – of multilayer coatings is strongly influenced by the type of the formed interfaces between the different layers. In industrially applied tribological coatings the interface region is predominantly not a perfect sudden change of the chemical composition of the adjacent crystal planes, but a transition zone of a thickness, which is strongly dependent on the energetic conditions during deposition. Multilayer coatings grown by high-energetic deposition techniques always struggle with high atomic mixing of both adjacent coating materials due to high energetic ion implantation. One of these high-energetic deposition techniques is the Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD), characterized by pulsed and within one pulse alternating high- and low-energetic particle fractions, hitting successively the substrate surface. Such deposition conditions were shown to be highly advantageous for low temperature deposition by the densification of the growth structures due to activated diffusion and re-sputtering, but increases the difficulty in depositing multilayer structures. The current paper addresses these specific growth conditions based on Ti/TiN and Cr/CrN multilayer coatings. High resolution transmission electron microscopy results show that the atomic mixing at the interface is not highly critical for the deposition of multilayer coatings and that extremely dense growth structures are forming even in the interface regions.