Surface Modification of SPK NL Steel: Relevance to Tribological and Electrochemical Potency

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Nanomaterial and Nanocoatings, Institute for Color Science and Technology (ICST), P.O. Box 16765-654, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Surface Coating and Corrosion, Institute for Color Science and Technology (ICST), P.O. Box 16765-654, Tehran, Iran


SPK NL steel, as a hard and process-wise stable alloy, has myriad applications in sheet metal forming. However, to increase the quality of the products and decrease cost, applying a self-lubricant protective coating on the surface seems to be an efficacious strategy. The CrN and carbon-enriched CrN, i.e. (a-C: CrN), hybrid coatings are physically vapor-deposited on the SPK NL alloy surface. The C/N ratio on the morphology, tribological properties, mechanical characteristics, and anticorrosive features of the coated SPK NL substrates are studied. Results evidenced that high carbon inclusion increases the plastic hardness of the CrN coating up to about 35 GPa and significantly improves the plasticity index to ~0.2. The COF decreases from ~0.6 for CrN to ~0.1 for (a-C:CrN). Coatings with a high sp2 fraction impart an excellent self-lubricant characteristic to SPK NL steel. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy data approve that both coatings provide high corrosion resistance, and although CrN provides superior corrosion resistance nonetheless. As an outcome, (a-C:CrN) hybrid coatings with high carbon content, possessing high hardness, good tribological properties, and corrosion resistance seems to be a prospective candidate for surface protection of SPK NL steel.


Main Subjects

  1. Murakawa, N. Koga, T. Kumagai, Deep-drawing of aluminum sheets without lubricant by use of diamond-like carbon coated dies, Surf. Coatings Technol. 76–77(1995), 553-558.
  2. Mousavi, T. Kunze, T. Roch, A. Lasagni, A. Brosius, Deep drawing process without lubrication - An adapted tool for a stable, economic and environmentally friendly process, Procedia Eng., 207(2017), 48-53.
  3. Wang, F. Zhou, X. Wang, K. Chen, M. Wang, T. Qian, Y. Li, Comparison of tribological properties of CrN, TiCN and TiAlN coatings sliding against SiC balls in water, Appl. Surf. Sci., 257(2011), 7813-7820.
  4. M. Sanders, A. Anders, Review of cathodic arc deposition technology at the start of the new millennium, Surf. Coatings Technol., 133-134(2000), 78-90.
  5. Liu, Q. Bi, A. Matthews, EIS comparison on corrosion performance of PVD TiN and CrN coated mild steel in 0.5 N NaCl aqueous solution, Corros. Sci., 43(2001), 1953-1961.
  6. Bertrand, H. Mahdjoub, C. Meunier, A study of the corrosion behaviour and protective quality of sputtered chromium nitride coatings, Surf. Coatings Technol., 126(2000), 199-209.
  7. Wang, A. Zhang, L. Wang, The influence of metal alloyed on the structure and wear properties of CrN coatings, Lubr. Eng., 33(2008), 30-32.
  8. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, B. Ramezanzadeh, M.G. Sari, A.K. Nezhad, Developing a graphite like carbon:niobium thin film on GTD-450 stainless steel substrate, Appl. Surf. Sci., 511(2020), 145613.
  9. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, B. Ramezanzadeh, M. Ganjaee, A tailored pulsed substrate bias voltage deposited (a-C: Nb) thin-film coating on GTD-450 stainless steel: enhancing mechanical and corrosion protection characteristics, Chem. Eng. J., 404(2020), 126490.
  10. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, M. Mahdavian, M.R. Saeb, H. Vahabi, J.-S. Lecomte, P. Laheurte, High-performance hybrid coatings based on diamond-like carbon and copper for carbon steel protection, Diam. Relat. Mater., 80(2017), 84-92.
  11. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, M. Mahdavian, M.R. Saeb, H. Vahabi, N. Kokanyan, P. Laheurte, Magnetron-sputtered copper/diamond-like composite thin films with super anti-corrosion properties, Surf. Coatings Technol., 333(2018), 148-157.
  12. Qiang, K. Gao, L. Zhang, J. Wang, B. Zhang, J. Zhang, Further improving the mechanical and tribological properties of low content Ti-doped DLC film by W incorporating, Appl. Surf. Sci., 353(2015), 522-529.
  13. Masuko, T. Ono, S. Aoki, A. Suzuki, H. Ito, Friction and wear characteristics of DLC coatings with different hydrogen content lubricated with several Mo-containing compounds and their related compounds, Tribol. Int., 82(2015), 350-357.
  14. Wang, X. Guan, G. Zhang, Friction and wear behaviors of carbon-based multilayer coatings sliding against different rubbers in water environment, Tribol. Int., 64(2013), 69-77.
  15. Wang, L. Wang, Q. Xue, Improvement in the tribological performances of Si3N4, SiC and WC by graphite-like carbon films under dry and water-lubricated sliding conditions, Surf. Coatings Technol., 205(2011), 2770-2777.
  16. Zou, W. Xie, X. Tang, Further improvement of mechanical and tribological properties of Cr-doped diamond-like carbon nanocomposite coatings by N codoping, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys., 55(2016), 115501.
  17. Dai, G. Wu, A. Wang, Preparation, characterization and properties of Cr-incorporated DLC films on magnesium alloy, Diam. Relat. Mater., 19(2010), 1307-1315.
  18. Dai, H. Zheng, G. Wu, A. Wang, Effect of bias voltage on growth property of Cr-DLC film prepared by linear ion beam deposition technique, Vacuum, 85(2010), 231-235.
  19. Sun, Z.Q. Fu, W. Zhang, C.B. Wang, W. Yue, S.S. Lin, M.J. Dai, Friction and wear of Cr-doped DLC films under different lubrication conditions, Vacuum, 94(2013), 1-5.
  20. Bootkul, B. Supsermpol, N. Saenphinit, C. Aramwit, S. Intarasiri, Nitrogen doping for adhesion improvement of DLC film deposited on Si substrate by Filtered Cathodic Vacuum Arc (FCVA) technique, Appl. Surf. Sci., 310(2014), 284-292.
  21. H. Ahmed, J. A. Byrne, Effect of surface structure and wettability of DLC and N-DLC thin films on adsorption of glycine, Appl. Surf. Sci., 258(2012), 5166-5174.
  22. Mabuchi, T. Higuchi, V. Weihnacht, Effect of sp2/sp3 bonding ratio and nitrogen content on friction properties of hydrogen-free DLC coatings, Tribol. Int., 62(2013), 130-140.
  23. Guan, Y. Wang, J. Wang, Q. Xue, Adaptive capacities of chromium doped graphite-like carbon films in aggressive solutions with variable pH, Tribol. Int., 96(2016), 307-316.
  24. Y. Ming, X. Jiang, D. G. Piliptsou, Y. Zhuang, A. V. Rogachev, A.S. Rudenkov, A. Balmakou, Chromium-modified a-C films with advanced structural, mechanical and corrosive-resistant characteristics, Appl. Surf. Sci., 379(2016), 424-432.
  25. Ye, Y. Wang, H. Chen, J. Li, Y. Yao, C. Wang, Doping carbon to improve the tribological performance of CrN coatings in seawater, Tribol. Int., 90(2015), 362-371.
  26. Y. Tong, J. W. Lee, C. C. Kuo, S.H. Huang, Y. C. Chan, H. W. Chen, J. G. Duh, Effects of carbon content on the microstructure and mechanical property of cathodic arc evaporation deposited CrCN thin films, Surf. Coatings Technol., 231(2013), 482-486.
  27. Bakalova, N. Petkov, H. Bahchedzhiev, P. Kejzlar, L. Voleský, Monitoring Changes in the tribological behaviour of CrCN thin layers with different CH4/N2 gas ratios at room and elevated temperatures, Manuf. Technol., 18(2018), 533-537.
  28. P. Furlan, A. N. Klein, D. Hotza, Diamond-like carbon films deposited by hydrocarbon plasma sources, Rev. Adv. Mater. Sci., 34(2013), 165-172.
  29. Erdemir, I. B. Nilufer, O. L. Eryilmaz, M. Beschliesser, G.R. Fenske, Friction and wear performance of diamond-like carbon films grown in various source gas plasmas, Surf. Coatings Technol., 120-121(1999), 589-593.
  30. Yuwei, W. Yongxin, W. Chunting, L. Jinlong, Y. Yirong, An analysis on tribological performance of CrCN coatings with different carbon contents in seawater, Tribiology Int., 91(2015), 131-139.
  31. Polcar, T. Vitu, L. Cvrcek, J. Vyskocil, A. Cavaleiro, Effects of carbon content on the high temperature friction and wear of chromium carbonitride coatings, Tribiology Int., 43(2010), 1228-1233.
  32. Hu, X. Tian, M. Yang, C. Gong, J. Lin, Improvement of discharge and microstructure of Cr-C-N coatings by electromagnetically enhanced magnetron sputtering, Vaccum, 148(2018), 98-105.
  33. Wang, F. Zhou, Z. Zhou, L.K. Li, J. Yan, Influence of carbon concentration on the electrochemical behavior of CrCN coatings in simulated body fluid, Surf. Coat. Technol., 265(2015), 16-23.
  34. Khamseh, M. Nose, T. Kawabata, A. Saiki, K. Matsuda, K. Terayama, S. Ikeno, Effect of deposition conditions on the structure and properties of CrAlN films prepared by pulsed DC reactive sputtering in FTS mode at high Al content, Mater. Trans., 49(2008), 2082–2090.
  35. Wang, F. Zhou, X. Ding, Z. Zhou, C. Wang, W. Zhang, L.K. Li, S. Lee, Microstructure and water-lubricated friction and wear properties of CrN (C) coatings with different carbon contents, Appl. Surf. Sci., 268(2013), 579-587.
  36. Bayon, A. Igartua, J.J. Gonzalez, U. Ruiz De Gopegui, Influence of the carbon content on the corrosion and tribocorrosion performance of Ti-DLC coatings for biomedical alloys, Tribol. Int., 88(2015), 115-125.
  37. C. Ferrari, Raman spectroscopy of graphene and graphite : Disorder, electron-phonon coupling, doping and nonadiabatic effects, Solid State Commun., 143(2007), 47-57.
  38. Das, B. Chakraborty, A.K. Sood, Raman spectroscopy of graphene on different substrates and influence, Bull. Mater. Sci., 31(2008), 579-584.
  39. Musil, H. Poláková, Hard nanocomposite Zr-Y-N coatings, correlation between hardness and structure, Surf. Coatings Technol., 127(2000), 99-106.
  40. Regent, J. Musil, Magnetron sputtered Cr-Ni-N and Ti-Mo-N films: Comparison of mechanical properties, Surf. Coatings Technol., 142-144(2001), 146-151.
  41. Wang, L. Wang, G. Zhang, S.C. Wang, R.J.K. Wood, Q. Xue, Effect of bias voltage on microstructure and properties of Ti-doped graphite-like carbon fi lms synthesized by magnetron sputtering, Surf. Coat. Technol., 205(2010), 793-800.
  42. Salmasifar, M. Edraki, E. Alibakhshi, B. Ramezanzadeh, G. Bahlakeh, Combined electrochemical/surface investigations and computer modeling of the aquatic Artichoke extract molecules corrosion inhibition properties on the mild steel surface immersed in the acidic medium, J. Mol. Liq. In Press, (2020), 114856.
  43. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, B. Ramezanzadeh, J.-S. Lecomte, P. Laheurte, X. Noirefalize, F. Laoutid, H. Vahabi, Tailoring hardness and electrochemical performance of TC4 coated Cu/a-C thin coating with introducing second metal Zr, Corros. Sci., 172(2020), 108713.
  44. Samiee, B. Ramezanzadeh, M. Mahdavian, E. Alibakhshi, Designing a non-hazardous nano-carrier based on graphene oxide @ Polyaniline-Praseodymium (III) for fabrication of the Active /Passive anti- corrosion coating, J. Hazard., 398(2020), 123136.
  45. Samiee, B. Ramezanzadeh, M. Mahdavian, E. Alibakhshi, Assessment of the smart self-healing corrosion protection properties of a water-base hybrid organo-silane film combined with non-toxic organic/inorganic environmentally friendly corrosion inhibitors on mild steel, J. Clean. Prod., 220(2019), 17-27.
  46. Samiee, B. Ramezanzadeh, M. Mahdavian, E. Alibakhshi, G. Bahlakeh, Graphene oxide nano-sheets loading with praseodymium cations: Adsorption-desorption study, quantum mechanics calculations and dual active-barrier effect for smart coatings fabrication, J. Ind. Eng. Chem., 78(2019), 36-48.
  47. Alibakhshi, E. Ghasemi, M. Mahdavian, The effect of interlayer spacing on the inhibitor release capability of layered double hydroxide based nanocontainers, J. Clean. Prod., 251(2020), 119676.
  48. J. Palimi, E. Alibakhshi, B. Ramezanzadeh, G. Bahlakeh, M. Mahdavian, Screening the anti-corrosion effect of a hybrid pigment based on zinc acetyl acetonate on the corrosion protection performance of an epoxy-ester polymeric coating, J. Taiwan Inst. Chem. Eng., 82(2018), 261-272.
  49. Mahdavian, A. R. Tehrani-Bagha, E. Alibakhshi, S. Ashhari, M.J. Palimi, S. Farashi, S. Javadian, F. Ektefa, Corrosion of mild steel in hydrochloric acid solution in the presence of two cationic gemini surfactants with and without hydroxyl substituted spacers, Corros. Sci., 137(2018), 62-75.
  50. Nemati, M. Saghafi, S. Khamseh, E. Alibakhshi, P. Zarrintaj, M.R. Saeb, Magnetron-sputtered TixNythin films applied on titanium-based alloys for biomedical applications: Composition-microstructure-property relationships, Surf. Coat. Technol., 349(2018), 251-259.
  51. Alibakhshi, E. Ghasemi, M. Mahdavian, B. Ramezanzadeh, A comparative study on corrosion inhibitive effect of nitrate and phosphate intercalated Zn-Al- layered double hydroxides (LDHs) nanocontainers incorporated into a hybrid silane layer and their effect on cathodic delamination of epoxy topcoat, Corros. Sci., 115(2017), 159-174.
  52. Darja Kek, P. Peter, C. Miha, M. Marijan, The corrosion behavior of Cr-(C, N) PVD hard coatings deposited on various substrates, Electrochem. Acta., 49(2004), 1527-1533.
  53. B. Bajat, I. Milosev, Z. Jovanocic, V.B. Miskovic-Stankovic, Studies on adhesion characteristics and corrosion behaviour of vinyltriethoxysilane/epoxy coating protective system on aluminium, Appl. Surf. Sci., 256(2010), 3508-3517.
  54. Guan, Y. Wang, G. Zhang, X. Jiang, L. Wang, Q. Xue, Microstructures and properties of Zr/CrN multilayer coatings fabricated by multi-arc ion plating, Tribiology Int., (2016), 0-1.
  55. C. Lu, N. Pu, K. Hou, C. Tseng, M. Ger, The effect of formic acid concentration on the conductivity and corrosion resistance of chromium carbide coatings electroplated with trivalent chromium, Appl. Surf. Sci., 282(2013), 544-551.