We have investigated the effect of ion bombardment on the structure and hardness of thin coatings of TiN/NbN multilayered structures and monolithic films of both TiN and NbN. A radio frequency coil was used to generate an additional inductively coupled plasma between the substrate and the target enabling the sample to be bombarded by a high flux of relatively low energy ions under the appropriate conditions. It is shown that the effect of such bombardment in the case of the monolithic films is to reduce the porosity. This gave an increase in the hardness of both the TiN and the NbN films up to a power of 100 W (using a coil with a cross-sectional area of 2 × 103 mm2). Further increasing the power density led to a decrease in hardness. TiN/NbN multilayer coatings were made under the optimum deposition conditions for the monolithic materials and gave hardnesses greater than those observed in either TiN or NbN and approximately 50% greater than that predicted by a mixtures rule.
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