A detailed study on the mechanical, structural and surface characteristics of nanocrystalline TiB2films deposited on Si-100 substrates by direct current (DC) magnetron sputtering was carried out. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force microscope (AFM), nanoindentaion and X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies on these films were performed. Magnetron sputtered titanium diboride coatings had a maximum hardness of 36 GPa and elastic modulus of 360 GPa. From the XRD analyses, the films were found to grow in (00l) direction-oriented perpendicular to the substrate. The AFM analysis of the films showed the variation of grain size between 30 and 50 nm. The high-resolution AFM images revealed arrangements of atoms resembling lattice and the interplanar spacings measured on the image also showed the orientation of grains in the (001) direction. Nanoindentation studies at very shallow depths showed a continuous increase of hardness and modulus with indentation depth up to 40 nm due to tip blunting and presence of oxides on the film surface (confirmed from the XPS study). The elastic recovery was approximately 69% for 100 nm depth whereas it was 52% for 1000 nm depth. © 2007.
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