Carbonitride (CNx) coatings have existed for several decades but are not well understood. Related studies have indicated that CNx coatings exhibit behaviors comparable to diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings. Metal-doped CNx coatings are expected to show superior performance to single CNx coatings. In this study, a CNx coating and a group of CNx coatings with 6 at. % metal doping (W, Ti, Zr, or Cr) were prepared on biograde AISI 316L stainless steel (SS316L) substrates, and they were then characterized and studied for antibacterial and wear performance. The microstructure, constituent phase, nanohardness, adhesion, surface roughness, and contact angle were evaluated. The antimicrobial test used Staphylococcus aureus and followed the Japanese Industrial Standard JIS Z 2801:2010. Finally, the wear behavior was assessed. The results showed that the CNx coating was a composite of amorphous CNx and amorphous C structures. The metal doping caused crystalline metal carbides/nitrides to form in the CNx coatings, which weakened their overall integrity. All the coatings showed antimicrobial ability for the SS316L samples. The CNx-Zr coating, the surface of which had the highest hydrophilicity, produced the best antibacterial performance. However, the CNx-Zr coating showed lower wear resistance than the CNx-W and CNx-Ti coatings. The CNx-Ti coating with a highly hydrophilic surface exhibited the lowest antibacterial ability.
Keywords: antibacterial performance; carbon-nitride; metal doping; wear behavior.