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Development of [FeCoTaN/TaN]n multilayer films for the simultaneous provision of wear protection and soft magnetic properties

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Wear protection coatings produced by physical vapour deposition techniques are established in engineering applications since the early 1980ies. However, a real-time optical inspection of their current state in service is impossible in most cases due to non-accessibility. As an approach to overcome this problem, we recently started the development of wear protection films with intrinsic sensor functionality based on the implementation of a magnetoelastic ferromagnetic phase [1]. The development of soft ferromagnetic thin films is driven by the increasing trend of miniaturization in many technological applications. Thin films in which low coercivity is combined with a strong uniaxial anisotropy, a high saturation polarization, and a high electrical resistance, are interesting for the use in applications where high frequency electromagnetic fields are applied, such as microinductors and transformers with magnetic cores [2]. In particular, such thin films are generally suited for the use in remote interrogable sensor applications [3]. As an interesting material class, nanocrystalline FeCoTMN films have been developed in the past years. In such films, FeCo grains are refined by the surrounding TMN matrix which results in the reduction of the coercive fields and considerable electrical resistance. Additionally, grain growth processes upon annealing are hindered up to considerable temperatures. For the induction of a uniaxial ferromagnetic anisotropy, usually an external static magnetic field is applied, either during film growth or ex-situ with simultaneous annealing. In numerous studies, FeCoTaN films were shown to exhibit a combination of properties which is a good compromise between the above requirements [4, 5]. However, there has been no report available on the optimization or at least the determination of the mechanical properties of nanocrystalline ferromagnetic composite films suitable for applications in electromagnetic hi[...]

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