Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Material Science & Engineering (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Stagon

Second Advisor

Dr. Grant Bevill

Third Advisor

Dr. Jutima Simsiriwong

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Maitri Warusawithana

Department Chair

Dr. Daniel Santavicca

College Dean

William Klostermeyer


Direct current (DC) and radio frequency (RF) sputtering methods have been commonplace in industry for several decades and widely studied in literature. Hard films of nitrides, such as titanium nitride (TiN), have been deposited using reactive DC sputtering onto cutting tools and medical devices extensively as well. For these applications, the films require excellent adhesion, high density, and high hardness. High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) has emerged over the last several years as a method to produce films with increased density and mechanical properties. Process-structure-property relationships for reactive HIPIMS are not yet well developed. Additionally, conventional HIPIMS suffers from relatively low deposition rates, which becomes a challenge or barrier of adoption for applied TiN coatings that are typically greater than several microns in thickness. This work aims to look at increasing this deposition rate while maintaining the beneficial effects of HIPIMS by utilizing the short duration “kick-pulse” in the voltage/current cycle, leading to higher instantaneous deposition rates and increased adatom energy level. TiN films are deposited onto silicon (Si) wafers under varied reactive sputtering conditions, including DC, HIPIMS, and HIPIMS with kick-pulse. Structural characterizations are performed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Optical properties of the resulting films are also characterized using reflection UV-Vis spectroscopy. The deposition rate, morphology, and chemical composition of the films are highly affected by the processing conditions, with the kick-pulse producing significant increase in deposition rate and observed grain size. Further investigation will aim to develop a modified structural zone model to include HIPIMS with and without kick-pulse.