Gradient DLC-based nanocomposite coatings as a solution to improve tribological performance of aluminum alloy
The low hardness and poor tribological performance of aluminum alloy as moving component greatly restricts their wide applications in automotive fields. In this letter, an attempt to deposit gradient Ti/TiN/Si/(TiC/a-C:H) multi-layer on aluminum alloy is thus effectively performed by a combined arc ion plating and magnetron sputtering process based on the concept of involving coatings with a functionally graded interface. Multi-layered structure within DLC-based coatings has shown to significantly improve the load-bearing capacity, anti-wear and self-lubricating ability of Al alloys. The friction coefficient of gradient DLC-based coatings decreased to 0.18 under dry sliding condition while kept at 0.05 under the oil-lubricated conditions. The wear rate of gradient DLC multilayers was lower by two and even three orders of magnitude when compared with Al alloys both under dry wear and oil-lubricated conditions. Such gradient DLC-based coatings with good adhesion strength, high hardness, and excellent tribological performance are considered as potential protective surfaces of Al alloys for engine parts.