The high plasma density and large fraction of ionized species created in a high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) discharge add new measures to control the sputtering process. We have studied the sputtering of TiB2 coatings by HiPIMS from a compound target in an industrial system. How the degree of ionized species effects coating microstructure and mechanical properties has been investigated by varying the pulse frequency between 200 Hz and 1000 Hz while keeping the average power constant at 2 kW. The coatings have a B/Ti atomic ratio amp;gt;= 2.5 and a microstructure exhibiting 001 textured nanocolumnar grains with an amorphous B tissue phase in grain boundaries. Lower frequencies provide higher degree of ionization, which does, however, increase the compressive residual stress in the coatings. This results in harder coatings and the highest hardness of 49 GPa is measured for the coating deposited at 200 Hz (-3.8 GPa residual stress). A change in texture from random orientation to 001 texture is achieved when going from regular dc sputtering to HiPIMS at a floating bias. Superhard (H = 43 GPa) TiB2 coatings with a relatively low compressive stress of about -1 GPa can be deposited by HiPIMS at 1000 Hz using floating bias. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funding Agencies|Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation [2015.0043]; Electron Microscopy laboratory in Linkoping; Swedish Research Council (VR) [642-2013-8020, 622-2008-405, 621-2012-4359]