A comparative study of the structural, mechanical and tribological characteristics of TiSiC-Cr coatings prepared in CH 4 and C 2 H 2 reactive atmosphere by cathodic vacuum arc

Mariana Braic, Alina Vladescu, Mihai Balaceanu, Catalin Luculescu, Sibu C. Padmanabhan, Lidia Constantin, Michael A. Morris, Viorel Braic, Cristiana Eugenia Ana Grigorescu, Paul Ionescu, Maria Diana Dracea, Constantin Logofatu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


TiSiC-Cr coatings, with Cr and Si as additional elements, were deposited on Si, C 45 and 316 L steel substrates via cathodic arc evaporation. Two series of coatings with thicknesses in the range of 3.6–3.9 μm were produced, using either CH 4 or C 2 H 2 as carbon containing gas. For each series, different coatings were prepared by varying the carbon rich gas flow rate between 90 and 130 sccm, while maintaining constant cathode currents (110 and 100 A at TiSi and Cr cathodes, respectively), substrate bias (–200 V) and substrate temperature (∼320 °C). The coatings were analyzed for their mechanical characteristics (hardness, adhesion) and tribological performance (friction, wear), along with their elemental and phase composition, chemical bonds, crystalline structure and cross-sectional morphology. The coatings were found to be formed with nano-scale composite structures consisting of carbide crystallites (grain size of 3.1–8.2 nm) and amorphous hydrogenated carbon. The experimental results showed significant differences between the two coating series, where the films formed from C 2 H 2 exhibited markedly superior characteristics in terms of microstructure, morphology, hardness, friction behaviour and wear resistance. For the coatings prepared using CH 4 , the measured values of crystallite size, hardness, friction coefficient and wear rate were in the ranges of 7.2–8.2 nm, 26–30 GPa, 0.3–0.4 and 2.1–4.8 × 10 −6  mm 3  N −1  m −1 , respectively, while for the coatings grown in C 2 H 2 , the values of these characteristics were found to be in the ranges of 3.1–3.7 nm, 41–45 GPa, 0.1–0.2 and 1.4–3.0 × 10 −6  mm 3  N −1  m −1 , respectively. Among the investigated coatings, the one produced using C 2 H 2 at the highest flow rate (130 sccm) exhibited the highest hardness (45.1 GPa), the lowest friction coefficient (0.10) and the best wear resistance (wear rate of 1.4 × 10 −6  mm 3  N −1  m −1 ).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-328
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cathodic arc
  • Friction and wear
  • Mechanical properties
  • Structure
  • TiSiC-Cr coatings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A comparative study of the structural, mechanical and tribological characteristics of TiSiC-Cr coatings prepared in CH <sub>4</sub> and C <sub>2</sub> H <sub>2</sub> reactive atmosphere by cathodic vacuum arc'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this