Self-organized nanostructuring in Zr0.69Al0.31N thin films studied by atom probe tomography
Journal article, 2016

We have applied atom probe tomography (APT) to analyze self-organizing structures of wear-resistant Zr0.69Al0.31N thin films grown by magnetron sputtering. Transmission electron microscopy shows that these films grow as a three-dimensional nanocomposite, consisting of interleaved lamellae in a labyrinthine structure, with an in-plane size scale of ~ 5 nm. The structure was recovered in the Al APT signal, while the Zr and N data lacked structural information. The onset of the self-organized labyrinthine growth was observed to occur by surface nucleation, 5–8 nm above the MgO substrate, due to increasing Zr–Al compositional fluctuations during elemental segregation. At a final stage, the labyrinthine growth mode was observed to be interrupted by the formation of larger ZrN grains.

Magnetron sputtering

Atom probe tomography

Zirconium aluminum nitride

Self-organized structures


Hard coatings


L. J. S. Johnson

Linköping University

N. Ghafoor

Linköping University

D. Engberg

Linköping University

Mattias Thuvander

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Microstructure

Krystyna Marta Stiller

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Microstructure

M. Oden

Linköping University

L. Hultman

Linköping University

Thin Solid Films

0040-6090 (ISSN)

Vol. 615 233-238

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies



More information

Latest update