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Titanium nitride (TiN) is widely used in machine engineering for its excellent anti-friction and chemical inertness properties. The material is routinely applied to metallic substrate materials through various surface modification methods, such as physical vapor deposition or chemical vapor deposition. In this paper, we investigate the impact of TiN and diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings on selected frictional phenomena of model tribological pairs. We found that under certain conditions, TiN and DLC coatings significantly enhance the frictional heating of the tribological pair by altering the tribofilm formation. This effect is stronger for 316L and 440B stainless steels than for two-phase titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V) in the same test conditions.

We also found that the thermal expansion coefficient of TiN depends on its microstructure and the growth conditions. The results show that the higher the concentration of titanium nanocrystals, the lower the TiN thermal expansion coefficient. This is attributed to the formation of twin boundaries in the amorphous matrix. These findings are important in understanding the mechanism of tribo-corrosion processes and the performance of TiN.

The 80 nm thick epitaxial TiN film structure grown on single-crystalline Al2O3 is well defined by high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) and selected area electron diffraction (SAED). No pinholes, pores or voids are observed in the as-fabricated TiN.

The tribological performance of a sputtered TiN barrier layer was evaluated in dry sliding tests with model tribological pairs made from the 316L, 440B and Ti6Al4V stainless steels, as well as from two-phase titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V). The results show that the uncoated samples exhibit a long running-in phase before stabilization. The TiN coating is not able to effectively protect the model metallic substrates from corrosion or wear phenomena. Moreover, under some frictional conditions, the TiN coating contributes to excessive frictional heating of the tribological pairs by altering the tribofilms.

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