Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) processes permit the deposition of films whose phases are usually not in equilibrium. This is made possible by the nature of the process, in which the components forming the film are charged with high energies and/or deposited on a substrate with certain structural and thermal states PVD is therefore able to produce differently formed phases, modifying not only the composition but also the structure of the film. The most relevant PVD processes [e.g. magnetron sputter ion-plating (MSIP) and arc ion-plating (AIP)] are employed. All processes are characterized by a high degree of flexibility in terms of the substrates and coating materials which can be used. They also allow the coating parameters (temperature, bias, electrical and magnetic field) to be varied over a wide range. Although some 100 coating systems deposited with the above-mentioned processes have been investigated, complex coatings in the TiN, TiAlN, TiZrN, AlO systems and amorphous carbon have demostrated a particularly broad spectrum of applications. Studies of the non-equilibrium phases have therefore been conducted on these systems. The structure and properties of the coatings are determined by means of metallographic examination, X-ray techniques, SEM, TEM, AES and in some cases application-oriented wear tests. © 1992.
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