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Low Temperature Nano-Tribological Study on a Functionally Graded Tribological Coating Using Nanoscratch Tests


Previous studies on low temperature tribological investigations were limited to macro-scale studies because of the lack of suitable instrumentation. This limitation has been overcome using a newly developed low temperature nanoscratch tester capable of characterizing the scratch resistance of coatings down to −30 °C. The scratch resistance and mechanical properties of a functionally graded a-C:H(Ti)/TiCN/TiN/Ti coating have been investigated for temperatures ranging from 25 to −30 °C. It has been found that the a-C:H(Ti)/TiCN/TiN/Ti coating failed at high loads by cracking and spallation during the room-temperature scratch tests. Fractography suggests that these failures originate from or close to the interface between the top a-C:H(Ti) and the TiCN layers. Decreasing the test temperature from 25 to 0 °C resulted in increased values in H, H/E r and H 3 /E r 2 , consistent with improved crack- and wear resistances, with further smaller improvements being achieved on further decreasing the temperature to −30 °C.

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The authors would like to thank the late Professor Tom Bell for his contribution to the first part of the project. The authors also wish to express their appreciations to the Professors Kungjeng Ma and Dr. Jim Smith for their help. Finally, the financial supports from the EPSRC, UK (EP/C535061/1) and the EC FP7 project (CP-FP213600-2 M3-2S) are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Jian Chen.

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Chen, J., Bell, G.A., Beake, B.D. et al. Low Temperature Nano-Tribological Study on a Functionally Graded Tribological Coating Using Nanoscratch Tests. Tribol Lett 43, 351–360 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11249-011-9813-7

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  • Nanotribology
  • Contact mechanics
  • Low temperature
  • Carbon
  • Coatings
  • Hardness