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FJ Li, S.Z. Zhang, JH Kong, Yi Zhang, WL Zhang

Multilayer DLC coatings via alternating bias during magnetron sputtering

Thin Solid Films 519 (2011) 4910-4916

To combat the high residual stress problem in monolayer diamond-like carbon coatings, this paper fabricated multilayer diamond-like carbon coatings with alternate soft and hard layers via alternating bias during magnetron sputtering. The surface, cross sectional morphology, bonding structures and mechanical properties are investigated. The atomic force microscopy images indicate low bias results in rougher surface with large graphite clusters and voids suggesting low coating density. The multilayered coatings demonstrate relatively smooth surface stemming from higher bias. The cross sectional images from field emission scanning electron microscopy indicate coating thickness decreases as substrate bias increases and confirm that higher bias results in denser coating. Delamination is observed in monolayer coatings due to high residual stress. The trend of sp3/sp2 fraction estimated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy is consistent with that of ID/IG ratios from Raman spectra, indicating the change of bonding structure with change of substrate bias. Hardness of multilayer diamond-like carbon coating is comparable to the coatings deposited at low constant bias but the adhesion strength and toughness are significantly improved. Alternately biased sputtering deposition provides an alternative when combination of hardness, toughness and adhesion strength is needed in an all diamond-like carbon coating.

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