Sputter deposition of bcc tantalum films with TaN underlayers for protection of steel

Leszek Gladczuk, Anamika Patel, John Derek Demaree, Marek Sosnowski

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66 Scopus citations


Deposition of tantalum films for protective coatings on steel has been investigated. The desired tough and ductile bcc phase of tantalum, rather than the normally deposited hard and brittle tetragonal phase, has been grown by DC magnetron sputtering on unheated substrates first covered with thin layers of tantalum nitride. The nitride was formed by reactive sputtering with nitrogen gas, with the same DC magnetron source and target as used for deposition of tantalum. The crystal structure and composition of the nitride promoting the growth of bcc Ta, previously undefined, has been identified as the metastable fcc (NaCl like) TaN. Alignment of the (111) crystallographic planes of fcc TaN with (110) planes of bcc Ta is discussed as a possible mechanism for this effect. The minimum thickness of TaN underlayer on steel, required to promote the growth of bcc Ta, has been established and found to be dependent on the substrate surface preparation. Scratch tests with a diamond tip showed that the nitride underlayer does not compromise the film adhesion. Stable and well-adhering coatings of bcc Ta with thickness ranging from tens of nanometers to tens of micrometers on steel with a thin TaN underlayer were obtained. The process of deposition of bcc Ta films, including the formation of TaN underlayers is described in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalThin Solid Films
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 8 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Magnetron sputtering
  • Physical vapor deposition
  • Tantalum
  • Tantalum nitride


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