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Open AccessArticle

Towards Functional Silicon Nitride Coatings for Joint Replacements

Division of Applied Materials Science, Department of Engineering Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala 752 37, Sweden
IHI Ionbond AG, Industriestrasse 211, Olten 4600, Switzerland
Thin Film Physics Division, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM), Linköping University, Linköping 581 83, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Coatings 2019, 9(2), 73;
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 14 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 25 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tribology and Surface Engineering)
PDF [1618 KB, uploaded 28 January 2019]


Silicon nitride (SiNx) coatings are currently under investigation as bearing surfaces for joint implants, due to their low wear rate and the good biocompatibility of both coatings and their potential wear debris. The aim of this study was to move further towards functional SiNx coatings by evaluating coatings deposited onto CoCrMo surfaces with a CrN interlayer, using different bias voltages and substrate rotations. Reactive direct current magnetron sputtering was used to coat CoCrMo discs with a CrN interlayer, followed by a SiNx top layer, which was deposited by reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering. The interlayer was deposited using negative bias voltages ranging between 100 and 900 V, and 1-fold or 3-fold substrate rotation. Scanning electron microscopy showed a dependence of coating morphology on substrate rotation. The N/Si ratio ranged from 1.10 to 1.25, as evaluated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Vertical scanning interferometry revealed that the coated, unpolished samples had a low average surface roughness between 16 and 33 nm. Rockwell indentations showed improved coating adhesion when a low bias voltage of 100 V was used to deposit the CrN interlayer. Wear tests performed in a reciprocating manner against Si3N4 balls showed specific wear rates lower than, or similar to that of CoCrMo. The study suggests that low negative bias voltages may contribute to a better performance of SiNx coatings in terms of adhesion. The low wear rates found in the current study support further development of silicon nitride-based coatings towards clinical application. View Full-Text
Keywords: silicon nitride; coating; reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering; wear; joint replacements silicon nitride; coating; reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering; wear; joint replacements

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Filho, L.; Schmidt, S.; Leifer, K.; Engqvist, H.; Högberg, H.; Persson, C. Towards Functional Silicon Nitride Coatings for Joint Replacements. Coatings 2019, 9, 73.

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