V–Al–C–N hard coatings with high carbon content were deposited by reactive radio-frequency magnetron sputtering using an experimental combinatorial approach, deposition from a segmented sputter target. The composition-dependent coexisting phases within the coating were analysed using the complementary methods of X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) and extended X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy (EXAFS). For the analysis of the X-ray absorption near-edge spectra, a new approach for evaluation of the pre-edge peak was developed, taking into account the self-absorption effects in thin films. Within the studied composition range, a mixed face-centred cubic (V,Al)(C,N) phase coexisting with a C–C-containing phase was observed. No indication of hexagonal (V,Al)(N,C) was found. The example of V–Al–C–N demonstrates how important a combination of complementary methods is for the detection of coexisting phases in complex multi-element coatings.
Krause, B., Darma, S., Kaufholz, M., Mangold, S., Doyle, S., Ulrich, S., … Baumbach, T. (2013). Composition-dependent structure of polycrystalline magnetron-sputtered V-Al-C-N hard coatings studied by XRD, XPS, XANES and EXAFS. Journal of Applied Crystallography, 46(4), 1064–1075. https://doi.org/10.1107/S0021889813014477