Skip to main content Accessibility help

An atom probe tomography investigation of Ti–MoS2 and MoS2–Sb2O3–Au films

  • Harpal Singh (a1), Kalyan C. Mutyala (a2), Ryan D. Evans (a3) and Gary L. Doll (a2)


Atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy are used to analyze magnetron-sputtered MoS2 films containing Ti and Au/Sb2O3 as a model system for tribological coatings. Transmission electron microscopy characterization showed that the Ti–MoS2 film is dense and featureless whereas Sb2O3/Au–MoS2 film is less dense and have columnar morphology. Three-dimensional atom probe reconstructions revealed that the Ti–MoS2 films have a homogeneous composition and contain about 15 at.% Ti, which is uniformly distributed throughout the MoS2 matrix without any evidence of Ti precipitation. Sb2O3/Au–MoS2 films also showed homogeneous distribution of Sb2O3 throughout the MoS2 matrix and the presence of Au-rich precipitates. The complementary techniques of atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy indicate that Ti and Sb2O3 incorporation in the deposition of MoS2 produces amorphous microstructures, whereas the addition of Au forms nano-sized and well-dispersed precipitates.


Corresponding author

a) Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:


Hide All

Contributing Editor: Eric A. Stach



Hide All
1. Scharf, T.W. and Prasad, S.V.: Solid lubricants: A review. J. Mater. Sci. 48, 511531 (2013).
2. Scharf, T.W., Kotula, P.G., and Prasad, S.V.: Friction and wear mechanisms in MoS2/Sb2O3/Au nanocomposite coatings. Acta Mater. 58, 41004109 (2010).
3. Singh, H., Mutyala, K.C., Mohseni, H., Scharf, T.W., Evans, R.D., and Doll, G.L.: Tribological performance and coating characteristics of sputter deposited Ti doped MoS2 in rolling and sliding contact. Tribol. Trans. 58, 767777 (2015).
4. Roberts, E.W.: Space tribology: Its role in spacecraft mechanisms. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 45, 503001 (2012).
5. Stupp, B.C., Stupp, C., Plating, H., and Francisco, S.: Synergestic effects of metals Co-sputtered with MoS2*. Thin Solid Films 84, 257266 (1981).
6. Fox, V., Renevier, N., Teer, D., Hampshire, J., and Rigato, V.: The structure of tribologically improved MoS2–metal composite coatings and their industrial applications. Surf. Coat. Technol. 116–119, 492497 (1999).
7. Singh, H., Mutyala, K.C., Evans, R.D., and Doll, G.L.: An investigation of material and tribological properties of Sb2O3/Au-doped MoS2 solid lubricant films under sliding and rolling contact in different environments. Surf. Coat. Technol. 284, 281289 (2015).
8. Renevier, N.M.U., Fox, V.C., Teer, D.G., and Hampshire, J.: Coating characteristics and tribological properties of sputter-deposited MoS2/metal composite coatings deposited by closed field unbalanced magnetron sputter ion plating. Surf. Coat. Technol. 127, 2437 (2000).
9. Hsu, W.K., Zhu, Y.Q., Yao, N., Firth, S., Clark, R.J.H., Kroto, H.W., and Walton, D.R.M.: Titanium-doped molybdenum disulfide nanostructures. Adv. Funct. Mater. 11, 6974 (2001).
10. Miller, M.K. and Forbes, R.G.: Atom probe tomography. Mater. Charact. 60, 461469 (2009).
11. Seidman, D.N.: Three-dimensional atom-probe tomography: Advances and applications. Annu. Rev. Mater. Res. 37, 127158 (2007).
12. Kelly, T.F. and Miller, M.K.: Atom probe tomography. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 78, 31101 (2007).
13. Gault, B., Moody, M.P., Cairney, J.M., and Ringer, S.P.: Atom probe crystallography. Mater. Today 15, 378386 (2012).
14. Kelly, T.F., Larson, D.J., Thompson, K., Alvis, R.L., Bunton, J.H., Olson, J.D., and Gorman, B.P.: Atom probe tomography of electronic materials. Annu. Rev. Mater. Res. 37, 681727 (2007).
15. Scharf, T.W., Romanes, M.C., Mahdak, K.C., Hwang, J.Y., Banerjee, R., Evans, R.D., and Doll, G.L.: Atomic-scale structure and composition of tungsten carbide reinforced diamondlike carbon films. Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 03 (2008).
16. Strondl, C.G.C.: Nanocomposite WC:H Diamond-like Carbon Coatings. PhD Thesis (Groningen University Press, Groningen, 2007).
17. Thompson, K., Lawrence, D., Larson, D.J., Olson, J.D., Kelly, T.F., and Gorman, B.: In situ site-specific specimen preparation for atom probe tomography. Ultramicroscopy 107, 131139 (2007).
18. Miller, M.K. and Russell, K.F.: Atom probe specimen preparation with a dual beam SEM/FIB miller. Ultramicroscopy 107, 761766 (2007).
19. Bichsel, R., Buffat, P., and Levy, F.: Correlation between process conditions, chemical composition and morphology of MoS2 films prepared by RF planar magnetron sputtering. Appl. Phys. Lett. 19, 15751585 (1986).
20. Scharf, T.W., Goeke, R.S., Kotula, P.G., and Prasad, S.V.: Synthesis of Au–MoS(2) nanocomposites: Thermal and friction-induced changes to the structure. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 5, 1176211767 (2013).
21. Lince, J.R., Hilton, M.R., and Bommannavar, A.S.: Oxygen substitution in sputter-deposited MoS2 films studied by extended X-ray absorption fine-structure, X-ray photoelectron-spectroscopy and X-ray-diffraction. Surf. Coat. Technol. 43–4, 640651 (1990).
22. Scharf, T.W., Diercks, D.R., Gorman, B.P., Prasad, S.V., and Dugger, M.T.: Atomic layer deposition of tungsten disulphide solid lubricant nanocomposite coatings on rolling element bearings. Tribol. Trans. 52, 284292 (2009).
23. Centers, P.W.: The role of oxide and sulfide additions in solid lubricant compacts. Tribol. Trans. 31, 149156 (1988).
24. Vurpillot, F., Bostel, A., and Blavette, D.: Trajectory overlaps and local magnification in three-dimensional atom probe. Appl. Phys. Lett. 76, 3127 (2000).
25. Müller, C.M., Sologubenko, A.S., Gerstl, S.S.A., and Spolenak, R.: On spinodal decomposition in Cu–34 at.% Ta thin films—An atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy study. Acta Mater. 89, 181192 (2015).
26. Scharf, T.W., Rajendran, A., Banerjee, R., and Sequeda, F.: Growth, structure and friction behavior of titanium doped tungsten disulphide (Ti–WS2) nanocomposite thin films. Thin Solid Films 517, 56665675 (2009).



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed