Effects of substrate bias voltage and target sputtering power on the structural and tribological properties of carbon nitride (CNx) coatings are investigated. CNx coatings are fabricated by a hybrid coating process with the combination of radio frequency plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (RF PECVD) and DC magnetron sputtering at various substrate bias voltage and target sputtering power in the order of -400 V 200 W, -400 V 100 W, -800 V 200 W, and -800 V 100 W. The deposition rate, N/C atomic ratio, and hardness of CNx coatings as well as friction coefficient of CNx coating sliding against AISI 52100 pin in N2 gas stream decrease, while the residual stress of CNx coatings increases with the increase of substrate bias voltage and the decrease of target sputtering power. The highest hardness measured under single stiffness mode of 15.0 GPa and lowest residual stress of 3.7 GPa of CNx coatings are obtained at -400 V 200 W, whereas the lowest friction coefficient of 0.12 of CNx coatings is achieved at -800 V 100 W. Raman and XPS analysis suggest that sp3 carbon bonding decreases and sp2 carbon bonding increases with the variations in substrate bias voltage and target sputtering power. Optical images and Raman characterization of worn surfaces confirm that the friction behavior of CNx coatings is controlled by the directly sliding between CNx coating and steel pin. Therefore, the reduction of friction coefficient is attributed to the decrease of sp 3 carbon bonding in the CNx coating. It is concluded that substrate bias voltage and target sputtering power are effective parameters for tailoring the structural and tribological properties of CNx coatings.
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