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Adhesion of tungsten carbide reinforced amorphous hydrocarbon thin films (WC/a-C:H) to steel substrates for tribological applications

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3 Author(s)
Evans, R.D. ; Timken Technology Center, The Timken Company, 1835 Dueber Avenue SW, Canton, Ohio 44706, USA ; Shiller, P.J. ; Howe, J.Y.

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We have explored the adhesive interlayer structure for a tungsten carbide reinforced amorphous hydrocarbon thin film coating (WC/a-C:H) that demonstrated excellent coating adhesion under highly stressed tribological contact. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis including cross-sectional imaging, electron diffraction, and energy dispersive spectroscopy was performed on abrupt and gradient interfaces within the multilayer film architecture. Interpretation of these results is aided by quantum mechanical calculations that were performed to investigate bonding interactions of the Cr adhesive interlayer to the Fe substrate surface within a ∼3 nm thick interfacial region. Low levels of oxygen present in the coating deposition chamber during deposition were found at the Fe–Cr interface using high-resolution TEM. Molecular orbital calculations for a linear three-atom molecular model Fe–O–Cr demonstrate the role of O in strengthening Fe to Cr bonding within that interfacial region.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:109 ,  Issue: 2 )