Influence of substrate treatment on the tribological properties of DLC coatings

B. Podgornik, J. Vižintin

Diamond and related materials 10 (2001) 2232–2237.


Due to the very thin nature of DLC coatings, the substrate must carry the main part of the applied load. If the substrate has insufficient strength to carry the contact load and thus support the coating, plastic deformation will occur, leading to premature failure of the coating. The challenge to improve the properties of hard DLC coatings by thermo-chemical pre-treatment of the substrate has gained much attention in recent years, leading to a new method called duplex treatment. In the present study, a hydrogen-free hard carbon coating deposited on plasma nitrided AISI 4140 steel was investigated with respect to microhardness, residual stress, scratch adhesion and dry sliding wear resistance. The pin-on-disc results showed that nitriding of the substrate improves the wear resistance of the hydrogen-free hard carbon coating as compared to the hardened substrate. The improvement can be related to the increased load carrying capacity of the steel substrate and to improved coating to substrate adhesion.


Keywords: plasma nitriding, diamond-like carbon, adhesion, wear

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