Room-temperature sputter deposition of gold-colored TiN assisted by niobium bombardment from a bipolar HiPIMS source

Ivan Fernández-Martinez, Rajesh Ganesan*, Behnam Akhavan, David T.A. Matthews, Michael Stueber, Marcela M.M. Bilek, David R. McKenzie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The deposition of gold-colored titanium nitride films without applying substrate heating is of significant interest due to the increasing demand for decorative coatings on temperature-sensitive three-dimensional substrates. Here, the energetic impact of Nb1+ ions during the deposition of TiN was achieved within a bipolar high-power impulse magnetron sputtering discharge operating on a Nb target. A separate titanium target was operated with direct current magnetron sputtering in the same reactive argon–nitrogen mixture. This process aimed to achieve a dense titanium nitride with the assistance of the niobium ion bombardment. The niobium controlled the phase formation and structure of the resulting Nb-containing TiN coating without needing external heating. The niobium ion bombardment during deposition increases the density of the titanium nitride coatings, promoting the formation of the cubic phase favored for its gold color and excellent mechanical and tribological properties, including HF1-level adhesion. Energy-selective mass spectrometer investigations revealed an increase in the flux and the energy of titanium ions due to momentum transfer from niobium ions to titanium neutrals in the plasma generated between the targets and the substrate. The approach introduced here paves the way for the formation of the cubic phase of Nb-doped TiN films without external heating, producing coatings with combined decorative and protective properties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023107
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of vacuum science & technology A: vacuum, surfaces, and films
Issue number2
Early online date14 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • 2024 OA procedure
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Compressive stress
  • Physical vapor deposition
  • Magnetron sputtering
  • Sputter deposition
  • Neutrals in plasma


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