Microstructure and mechanical properties evaluation of cathodic arc deposited CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings

Sung Hsiu Huang, Cheng Yi Tong, Tsung-Eong Hsien, Jyh Wei Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For the development of advanced nanoscale multilayer protective coatings, proper design of microstructure and chemical composition of carbon containing sequential transition metal nitride nanolayers is an important issue. In this work, five different nanostructured CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings were deposited periodically by cathodic arc evaporation. The bilayer period of the CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings was kept at 20 nm. The C2H2 gas flow ratio was adjusted from 6.3 to 20.0% for achieving CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings with 2.3–4.2 at.% carbon content. Nanolaminated CrCN and ZrCN nitride layers and thin amorphous carbon nitride mixed nanolayers ∼5 nm thick were obtained as the carbon content reached 4.2 at.%. It was found that the hardness and adhesion quality were strongly improved by the carbon addition to the CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings. An increase of 2.6–4.6 GPa in hardness was found for the CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings due to the balance of solution hardening effect of carbon atoms and the softening by the amorphous mixed nanolayer. An optimal combination of high hardness, 28.9 GPa, and good adhesion, 41 N of upper critical load were achieved when the carbon content was 4.2 at.% for the CrCN/ZrCN multilayer coatings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1015
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alloys and Compounds
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2019


  • Cathodic arc evaporation
  • CrCN/ZrCN
  • Multilayer
  • Nanoindenter
  • Scratch test
  • Tribological properties

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