Microstructure, Mechanical Properties and Tribological Behavior of Magnetron-Sputtered MoS2 Solid Lubricant Coatings Deposited under Industrial Conditions
Depositing MoS2 coatings for industrial applications involves rotating the samples during the PVD magnetron sputtering process. Here, we show that a 3-fold substrate rotation, along a large target–substrate distance given by the deposition unit, introduces porosity inside the coatings. The mechanical properties and wear behavior strongly correlate with the degree of porosity, which, in turn, depends on the temperature and the rotational speed of the substrate. Ball-on-disk tests and nanoindentation wear experiments show a consistent change in tribological behavior; first, a compaction of the porous structure dominates, followed by wear of the compacted material. Compaction was the main contributor to the volume loss during the running-in process. Compared to a dense coating produced without substrate rotation, the initially porous coatings showed lower hardness and a distinct running-in behavior. Tribological lifetime experiments showed good lubrication performance after compaction.