Evaluation of the Crystal Structure and Mechanical Properties of Cu Doped TiN Films

Yuyuan Fan, Dong Xie*, Donglin Ma, Fengjuan Jing, D. T. A. Matthews, R. Ganesan, Yongxiang Leng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, TiN films doped with different copper contents (TiCuN) were prepared by using direct current magnetron sputtering method. The effects of Cu doping on composition, structure, and mechanical properties of TiN films were studied by energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), a Vickers microhardnessmeter, and density functional theory (DFT). The results of experimental and DFT study showed that Cu mainly replaced Ti atoms in TiN to form replacement solid solution doping. When Cu replaced Ti in TiN, a weak Cu-N (bond population varied from 0.06 to 0.11) covalent bond formed; meanwhile, the bonding strength of Ti-N (bond population varied from 0.29 to 0.4) bond adjacent to Cu increased. When Cu content was low, a small number of weak Cu-N bonds were formed, with strengthened Ti-N bond near Cu atom, resulting in an increased hardness of Cu doped TiN films. According to the theory of weak bonds, when the Cu content was increased further, the number of weak Cu-N bonds increased and TiCuN hardness decreased. With an increase in Cu content, it was found the toughness of TiCuN also increased. The results of this study will provide a theoretical and experimental guidance for improving the toughness and deformation resistance of TiN, which has a potential application in the surface modification of medical devices
Original languageEnglish
Article number652
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


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