Hard and superhard nanocomposite Al-Cu-N films prepared by magnetron sputtering

J. Musil, H. Hrubý, P. Zeman, H. Zeman, R. Čerstvý, P. H. Mayrhofer, C. Mitterer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The article reports on structure, mechanical properties and macrostress of Al-Cu-N films deposited by reactive sputtering using a do unbalanced magnetron equipped with a round planar aluminum target fixed to the magnetron cathode with a copper ring. A systematic investigation of sputtered films showed that: (i) Al-Cu-N is a new nanocomposite material which can form superhard (> 40 GPa) coatings with a maximum microhardness of approximately 48 GPa; (ii) Al-Cu-N can easily form a very fine-grained material; (iii) the size of grains decides on the macrostress in Al-Cu-N films; the Al-Cu-N films composed of grains with the average size of 9.5 nm exhibit a low (< 0.5 GPa) macrostress and, on the contrary, the Al-Cu-N films composed of larger (> 10 nm) grains exhibit large macrostress of several GPa; and (iv) the macrostress in Al-Cu-N films can be varied from tension to compression by the variation of the energy delivered to the growing film, i.e. by the ion bombardment and the substrate heating. The relationships between microhardness, H, Young's modulus, E, and elastic recovery, W e evaluated from loading/unloading curves measured using the microhardness tester Fisherscope H 100 are also given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-609
Number of pages7
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001


  • Macrostress
  • Magnetron sputtering
  • Mechanical properties
  • Nc-AlNx/Cu nanocomposite films
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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