Transmission electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction investigation of the microstructure of nanoscale multilayer TiAlN/VN grown by unbalanced magnetron deposition

Luo, Q.; Lewis, D B; Hovsepian, Papken; Munz, W. D. (2004)
Materials Research Society
Cubic NaCl-B1 structured multilayer TiAlN/VN with a bi-layer thickness of approximately 3 nm and atomic ratios of (Ti+Al)/V = 0.98 to 1.15 and Ti/V = 0.55 to 0.61 were deposited by unbalanced magnetron sputtering at substrate bias voltages between -75 and -150 V. In this paper, detailed transmission electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction revealed pronounced microstructure changes depending on the bias. At the bias -75 V, TiAlN/VN followed a layer growth model led by a strong (110) texture to form a T-type structure in the Thornton structure model of thin films, which resulted in a rough growth front, dense columnar structure with inter-column voids, and low compressive stress of -3.8 GPa. At higher biases, the coatings showed a typical Type-II structure following the strain energy growth model, characterized by the columnar structure, void-free column boundaries, smooth surface, a predominant (111) texture, and high residual stresses between -8 and -11.5 GPa.

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