Effect of Zr content on the structure and hardness of CrZrN thin films prepared by reactive DC magnetron co-sputtering method

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Nirun Witit-anun
Adisorn Buranawong


          In this research work, a nanostructured chromium zirconium nitride (CrZrN) thin film was deposited on Si(100) by reactive DC magnetron co-sputtering method at room temperature. The effects of zirconium content on the structure and hardness of the as-deposited thin films by varying the sputtering currents applied to the Zr target (IZr) in the range of 300 mA to 900 mA, while the current of Cr target (ICr) was kept at 300 mA were investigated. The crystal structure, microstructure, morphology, thickness, and chemical composition were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM), and Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) techniques, respectively. The results showed that increases in Izr enhanced the deposition rate from 7.9 nm/min to 17.9 nm/min and increased the Zr content in the as-deposited films from 6.71 at% to 45.91 at%. The as-deposited films were formed as a (Cr, Zr) N solid solution, with fcc structure in (111), (200), and (220) planes. The lattice constant increased from 4.164 Å to 4.485 Å, whereas the average crystallite size decreased from 9.8 nm to 2.8 nm, showing that the as-deposited film has a nanocrystalline. The FE-SEM micro-images of all the CrZrN thin films showed compact columnar structure and dense morphology as a result of various Zr content in the films. Moreover, the thickness of the thin films was in the range of 475-1075 nm. The as-deposited film in this research work composed of chromium, zirconium, and nitrogen in different ratios, depending on Izr. The hardness of films measured by the nano-indentation technique increased from 9.1 GPa to 18.6 GPa with respect to an increase in zirconium content and a decrease in average crystallite size.

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Witit-anun, N., & Buranawong, A. (2023). Effect of Zr content on the structure and hardness of CrZrN thin films prepared by reactive DC magnetron co-sputtering method. RMUTSB ACADEMIC JOURNAL, 11(2), 172–185. Retrieved from https://li01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/rmutsb-sci/article/view/258773
Research Article


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