Scratch adhesion evaluation of diamond like carbon coatings with alternate hard and soft multilayers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title







School of Engineering


Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship


Kabir, M. S., Zhou, Z., Xie, Z., & Munroe, P. (2023). Scratch adhesion evaluation of diamond like carbon coatings with alternate hard and soft multilayers. Wear, 518-519, Article 204647. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wear.2023.204647


A series of four diamond like carbon coatings comprising alternating soft and hard layers was prepared by closed field unbalanced magnetron sputtering. A constant bias voltage of − 40 V was used for soft layer deposition, while the hard layers were deposited at different bias voltages for different coatings in series. A uniform hard-to-soft layer thickness ratio of approximately 1:1.33 was maintained for all four coatings. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy of the coatings confirmed that these diamond like carbon coatings indeed exhibited distinct soft and hard layers. Moreover, increasing bias voltage during hard layer deposition also increased the residual stress in these coatings. The coatings were also subjected to scratch testing to determine the effect of increasing bias voltage on the scratch toughness. Scratch cracking mechanism changed from chevron tensile cracking at low bias voltages to buckle spallation at higher bias voltages. All the coatings exhibited substrate exposure at high normal loads beyond the upper critical load. The scratch crack propagation resistance parameter was reduced by ∼ 1.5 times when the bias voltage was increased to − 140 V. It was demonstrated that coatings deposited at a hard layer bias voltage of − 100 V demonstrated the best combination of mechanical properties, including the plastic deformation resistance (H3/E2 ratio) and elastic strain to failure (H/E ratio).



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