Using ammonia for reactive magnetron sputtering, a possible alternative to HiPIMS?

Louis Rassinfosse, Julien L. Colaux, David Pilloud, Alexandre Nominé, Nikolay Tumanov, Stéphane Lucas, Jean Jacques Pireaux, Emile Haye

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While most of the works devoted to the synthesis of transition metal nitride coating by magnetron sputtering use N2 as reactive gas, an alternative method is proposed, namely using ammonia (NH3) as reactive gas. The magnetron sputtering of chromium in Ar/NH3 atmosphere is studied and compared to Ar/N2 atmosphere, with in situ (hysteresis curve, target voltage measurement, optical emission spectroscopy, deposition rate) and ex situ characterizations (XPS, XRD, SEM, RBS, UV–Vis, nanoindentation, 4-points probe). It appears that ammonia as a reactive gas influences the optical, electrical and mechanical properties as well as the microstructure of the thin films in a very similar way to HiPIMS with N2 reactive gas; improved mechanical properties are obtained, attributed to a change of the morphology, from columnar-like to nanocrystalline.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144176
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Ammonia
  • Chromium nitride
  • Reactive magnetron sputtering

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