CrTiAlN films were deposited on AISI 304 stainless steel by cathodic arc evaporation under a systematic variation of the substrate bias voltage. The effects of substrate bias on the coating morphology and mechanical properties, such as structure, composition, adhesion, hardness and Young's modulus, were studied in details using field emission scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, electron probe microanalysis and indenter. Polarization test and immersion test were also carried out to evaluate the corrosion behavior of the various films. CrTiAlN films are nanocrystalline that exhibit a CrN/TiAlN multi-layered morphology. At the optimal value of substrate bias voltage (i.e., - 150 V), the CrTiAlN film showed an increased Cr content and improved properties, such as higher adhesion, higher hardness (38 ± 2 GPa), and greater Young's modulus (319 ± 16 GPa) vs. the films deposited at other substrate bias voltages. Moreover, the optimum film has better corrosion resistance in 3.5 wt.% NaCl and 20 vol.% HCl solutions.
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