Composition, structure and mechanical property analysis of DC sputtered C-Ni and CNx-Ni nano-composite layers

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Carbon-nickel (C-Ni) and carbon-nitride-nickel (CNx-Ni) films were deposited onto native SiO2 covered Si substrates by DC magnetron sputtering from a graphite-nickel composite target using Ar or N 2 for sputtering at about 2.6 Pa. The substrate temperature varied between 25 and 800°C. The structure, composition and mechanical properties of C-Ni and CNx-Ni thin layers (200-300 nm) have been investigated by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), XPS, nano-indentation and nano-scratch techniques. The layers were predominantly crystalline irrespective of their deposition conditions. At low deposition temperature, up to 200°C, the columnar crystallites were identified as hexagonal Ni3C, separated by narrow 'walls' of amorphous carbon. At substrate temperatures above 400°C, however, a graphitic multilayer arrangement of the carbon matrix was developed around the nano-crystalline cubic nickel - nickel carbide islands. The mechanical properties of the films varied also significantly with the deposition temperature. The highest nano-hardness of about 14 GPa was measured for the film grown at 200°C, while lower values (2-4 GPa) were obtained for high-temperature films. High hardness values were related to the presence of Ni3C. The lowest friction coefficients were obtained for films containing high amounts of multi-layered graphite-like carbon developed at intermediate deposition temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-764
Number of pages5
JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2004


  • C-Ni
  • CN-Ni
  • Friction
  • Nano-composites
  • Nano-hardness
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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