Characterization of nitride coatings by XPS

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240 Citations (Scopus)


Nitride coatings have been used in numerous applications to increase the hardness and improve the wear and corrosion resistance of structural materials, as well as in various high-tech areas, where their functional rather than mechanical properties are of prime importance. Performance of these coatings is equally dependent on their chemical composition and long-range crystalline structure, as well as on the nature and amount of impurities and intergranular interactions. Significant improvement in the mechanical properties has recently been achieved with multi-component superlattice and nanocomposite nitride coatings. In the case of such multi-component systems, not only is close control of the elemental composition (stoichiometry) necessary to optimize the properties of the coatings, but the influence of chemical bond formation between the components is also of prime importance. Special care needs to be taken when non-equilibrium preparation conditions activation of CVD and PVD by plasmas or energetic particle beams are applied, occasionally leading to unpredicted deviations, both in composition and structure. As is highlighted in this paper, nitride coatings or nitrided surfaces can be analyzed in detail by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) due to its excellent element selectivity, quantitative character and high surfaace sensitivity. More importantly, XPS reflects the atomic scale chemical interactions, i.e. the bonds between neighboring atoms, and thus it also provides reliable structural characteristics for amorphous or nano-crystalline coatings of complex composition, for which application of diffraction techniques is not straightforward. A number of examples of the application of XPS are given for various types of nitride coatings, including interstitial compounds, such as TiN, CrNx, etc., as well as compounds with predominantly covalent bonding, such as AIN, GaN, Si3N4 and CNx. Special emphasis is placed on ion beam-induced compositional and structural changes and to the formation of 'superstoichiometric' TiN1+x, ZrN1+x compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2002


  • Nitride coatings
  • Nitrides
  • X-Ray-induced Auger electron spectroscopy (XAES)
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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