Production of PVD Coatings Based on Nb(CN)

Technology #15106

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Professor Christopher Schuh
Department of Material Sciences and Engineering, MIT
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Rafael Mesquita
Department of Material Science and Engineering, MIT
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Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Niobium-based coatings, methods of producing same, and apparatus including same

US Patent Pending

Niobium-based coatings, methods of producing same, and apparatus including same

PCT Patent Application WO 2013-102050

Coating process to create hardened, tough metal surfaces.


Applications for these coatings include industrial cutting or forming tools as well as other wear-resistant mechanical components.

Problem Addressed

There is a need for harder, tougher coatings with properties that can be specifically tailored according to given applications and wear mechanisms. This would significantly improve performance in many tool applications.


This invention uses the traditional Physical Vapor Deposition method to create coatings with pure niobium carbide (NbC), niobium carbonitride (NbCN) and NbC particles distributed in a ductile nickel matrix. Hard coatings were produced by optimizing the PVD variables on sputtering NbC, as well as by creating a nanocomposite with grains of a few nanometer size when NbC and Ni were co-sputtered. Additions of N were used to control the hardness and the physical properties of NbC coatings.


  • New combinations of hardness, toughness, and physical properties to enable coatings with better performance in industrial tooling applications.
  • PVD is an established technique, suitable to a variety of substrates and industrial applications.