Journal of Materials Research


Transmission Electron Microscopy and X-ray Diffraction Investigation of the Microstructure of Nanoscale Multilayer TiAlN/VN Grown by Unbalanced Magnetron Deposition

Q. Luoa1 c1, D.B. Lewisa1, P.Eh. Hovsepiana1 and W-D. Münza1

a1 Materials Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB, United Kingdom


Cubic NaCl-B1 structured multilayer TiAlN/VN with a bi-layer thickness of approximately 3 nm and atomic ratios of (Ti+Al)/V = 0.98 to 1.15 and Ti/V = 0.55 to 0.61 were deposited by unbalanced magnetron sputtering at substrate bias voltages between -75 and -150 V. In this paper, detailed transmission electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction revealed pronounced microstructure changes depending on the bias. At the bias -75 V, TiAlN/VN followed a layer growth model led by a strong (110) texture to form a T-type structure in the Thornton structure model of thin films, which resulted in a rough growth front, dense columnar structure with inter-column voids, and low compressive stress of -3.8 GPa. At higher biases, the coatings showed a typical Type-II structure following the strain energy growth model, characterized by the columnar structure, void-free column boundaries, smooth surface, a predominant (111) texture, and high residual stresses between -8 and -11.5 GPa.

(Received July 24 2003)

(Accepted December 22 2003)

Key Words:

  • Microstructure;
  • Coating;
  • Ion beam assisted deposition


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: