Thermal stability of superhard nanocomposite coatings consisting of immiscible nitrides

H. D. Männling, D. S. Patil, K. Moto, M. Jilek, S. Veprek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


We discuss the possible origin of the high thermal stability of our superhard nanocomposites, prepared according to the generic concept for their design published earlier. It will be shown that in systems which show a strong thermodynamically driven segregation (i.e. they are immiscible), the nanostructure and resulting superhardness (measured at room temperature) remain stable up to high temperatures of ≥ 1100°C. Spinodal decomposition which occurs during deposition leads to spontaneous formation of such nanostructures. The latter is fulfilled for plasma CVD of binary nanocomposites, such as nc-TiN/a-Si3N4, W2N/a-Si3N4, nc-VN/a-Si3N4 and others deposited at a relatively high pressure of ≥ 1 mbar and high plasma density. In the case of plasma PVD at much lower pressure and temperature, formation of the nanostructure is not fully completed during deposition. Upon annealing, such nanocomposites show a complex structural relaxation, accompanied by an increase of the hardness, after which they remain stable up to a high temperature of ≥ 1000°C. This will be demonstrated by (Tii-xAlx)N/a-Si3N4 nanocomposite coatings. Finally, we discuss the complex issue of the stability of ternary and quaternary nc-TiN/a-Si3N4/a- and nc-TiSix nanocomposites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-267
Number of pages5
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001


  • Immiscible nitride
  • Superhard nanocomposite
  • Thermal stability


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