Influence of Substrate Heating and Nitrogen Flow on the Composition, Morphological and Mechanical Properties of SiNx Coatings Aimed for Joint Replacements
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Silicon nitride (SiN
) coatings are promising for joint replacement applications due to their high wear resistance and biocompatibility. For such coatings, a higher nitrogen content, obtained through an increased nitrogen gas supply, has been found to be beneficial in terms of a decreased dissolution rate of the coatings. The substrate temperature has also been found to affect the composition as well as the microstructure of similar coatings. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the substrate temperature and nitrogen flow on the coating composition, microstructure and mechanical properties. SiN
coatings were deposited onto CoCrMo discs using reactive high power impulse magnetron sputtering. During deposition, the substrate temperatures were set to 200 °C, 350 °C or 430 °C, with nitrogen-to-argon flow ratios of 0.06, 0.17 or 0.30. Scanning and transmission electron spectroscopy revealed that the coatings were homogenous and amorphous. The coatings displayed a nitrogen content of 23-48 at.% (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy). The surface roughness was similar to uncoated CoCrMo (p = 0.25) (vertical scanning interferometry). The hardness and Young's modulus, as determined from nanoindentation, scaled with the nitrogen content of the coatings, with the hardness ranging from 12 ± 1 GPa to 26 ± 2 GPa and the Young's moduli ranging from 173 ± 8 GPa to 293 ± 18 GPa, when the nitrogen content increased from 23% to 48%. The low surface roughness and high nano-hardness are promising for applications exposed to wear, such as joint implants.
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