Open Access Nano Express

Nanoscale Visualization of Elastic Inhomogeneities at TiN Coatings Using Ultrasonic Force Microscopy

JA Hidalgo1*, C Montero-Ocampo1 and MT Cuberes2

Author Affiliations

1 CINVESTAV-IPN, U. Saltillo, Apdo. Postal 663, 25900, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico

2 Laboratory of Nanotechnology, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Pza. Manuel Meca 1, 13400, Almadén, Spain

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2009, 4:1493-1501  doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9426-3

Published: 16 September 2009

Abstract

Ultrasonic force microscopy has been applied to the characterization of titanium nitride coatings deposited by physical vapor deposition dc magnetron sputtering on stainless steel substrates. The titanium nitride layers exhibit a rich variety of elastic contrast in the ultrasonic force microscopy images. Nanoscale inhomogeneities in stiffness on the titanium nitride films have been attributed to softer substoichiometric titanium nitride species and/or trapped subsurface gas. The results show that increasing the sputtering power at the Ti cathode increases the elastic homogeneity of the titanium nitride layers on the nanometer scale. Ultrasonic force microscopy elastic mapping on titanium nitride layers demonstrates the capability of the technique to provide information of high value for the engineering of improved coatings.

Keywords:
PVD nanostructured coatings; TiN; Ultrasonic force microscopy; Scanning probe microscopy; Nanomechanics