Microstructure, properties and applications of Zr-carbide, Zr-nitride and Zr-carbonitride coatings: a review
Zirconium-based coatings have found important uses ranging from functional deposits on carbon fibers, field emitters, nuclear fuel particles, and dental and body implants to protective layers on tool bits, roller contacts, integrated circuits, and components exposed to high temperatures as well as aesthetically pleasing decorative coatings on common household fixtures. These applications are made possible by the remarkable properties of zirconium such as its high temperature ionic conductivity, corrosion resistivity, good wear resistance, elevated fracture toughness, and high hardness and strength. Zirconium has thermal expansion and modulus of elasticity close to those of iron and steel, respectively. This paper presents a review of the microstructure, properties and applications of Zr-carbide, Zr-nitride and Zr-carbonitride hard coatings synthesized using various processing techniques. The discussion presented in this article is deemed to be relevant to hard coatings in general.