Hard coatings are fabricated from multilayer boron/boron carbide, boron carbide/cubic boron nitride, and boron/boron nitride/boron carbide, and the fabrication thereof involves magnetron sputtering in a selected atmosphere. These hard coatings may be applied to tools and engine and other parts, as well to reduce wear on tribological surfaces and electronic devices. These boron coatings contain no morphological growth features. For example, the boron and boron carbide used in forming the multilayers are formed in an inert (e.g. argon) atmosphere, while the cubic boron nitride is formed in a reactive (e.g. nitrogen) atmosphere. The multilayer boron/boron carbide, and boron carbide/cubic boron nitride is produced by depositing alternate layers of boron, cubic boron nitride or boron carbide, with the alternate layers having a thickness of 1 nanometer to 1 micrometer, and at least the interfaces of the layers may be of a discrete or a blended or graded composition.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.