Thin films of titanium-silicon carbonitride (TiSiCN) with titanium adhesion layers were deposited at approximately 280°C on horizontally and vertically-mounted strips of 301-stainless steel by reactive magnetron sputtering. Considerable differences in the mid-deflections and radii of curvature between the vertical and horizontal samples were observed. Cross-sectional characterizations done on a TEM revealed a columnar growth and uniform microstructure. A finite-element model of the tri-layer sandwich structure using Mesh-Tie constraints was developed to estimate the intrinsic stress levels in the overcoat as probable functions of substrate location and orientation. The computational model in the absence of intrinsic stress was validated by analytical expressions for multilayer films. The initial stress state parameter was varied in Abaqus until consistency in curvature-values was achieved with the physical measurement obtained from an optical setup specially-constructed for this purpose. The difference in the S11/S22 principal stresses provided the intrinsic stress estimate. The calculated values of intrinsic stress were then applied to an FEA test model with fixed constraints to computationally determine the stress reduction for individual samples.

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