Synthesis and structural properties of Mo-S-N sputtered coatings

Kaushik Hebbar Kannur*, Talha Bin Yaqub, Teodor Huminiuc, Tomas Polcar, Christophe Pupier, Christophe Héau, Albano Cavaleiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transition-metal-dichalcogenide coatings provide low friction because of characteristic low shear strength along the basal plane of the lamellar structure; however, the material can easily degrade through exfoliation and poor adhesion to the metallic substrates. In this work, an innovative approach was employed to improve the coating's adhesion. A secondary plasma source was used during deposition to generate an additional charged particle flux which was directed to the growing film independently of the magnetron cathode. Therefore, Mo-S-N solid lubricant films were deposited by DCMS from a single molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) target in a reactive atmosphere. Nitrogen was introduced during the deposition with increasing partial pressures, resulting in a high N2 content in the doped films (37 at. %). The variation in incident ion energy and flux of energetic species bombarding the growing film allows for the control of the S/Mo ratio through selective re-sputtering of sulphur from the film. The S/Mo ratio was progressively increased in the range of 1.2–1.8, resulting in a gradient from a metallic layer to the lubricious sulphide. Combining the ion bombardment with nitrogen incorporation, the cohesive critical load (Lc1) reached 38 N, 10 times more when compared to pure MoS2 coating. Observation using HRTEM revealed an amorphous structure and strong bonding with the substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146790
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Surface Science
Early online date5 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • DC magnetron sputtering
  • Mo-S-N coatings
  • Nitrogen-doped TMD coatings
  • Solid lubricant coatings
  • Transition metal dichalcogenides
  • UKRI
  • EP/K040375/1
  • EP/R010145/1


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