AlxTi1−xN/CrN multilayer coatings were fabricated by magnetron sputtering and those hardness variations were studied by observing the crack propagation and measuring the chemical bonding state of nitrides by Ti addition. While AlN/CrN multilayer
shown stair-like crack propagation, AlxTi1−xN/CrN multilayer illustrated straight crack propagation. Most interestingly, Ti addition induced more broken nitrogen bonds in the nitride multilayers, leading to the reduction of hardness. However, the hardness
of Al0.25Ti0.75N/CrN multilayer, having high Ti contents, increased by the formation of many Ti–N bond again instead of Al–N bond. From these results, we found that linear crack propagation behavior was dominated by broken nitrogen bonds in the AlxTi1−xN/CrN
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