Magnetron Sputtering of Au-Based Alloys on NiTi Elements: Surface Investigation for New Products in SMA-Based Fashion and Luxury Accessories and Watchmaking

A novel approach for the deposition of Au-based coatings on NiTi components was proposed to give rise to innovative SMA-based products for the fashion, luxury, and watchmaking fields. Different Au-Cu and Au-Ag-Cu alloys (with confidential compositions within the color designations 2N, 4N, and 5N) were deposited by magnetron sputtering on superelastic and shape-memory NiTi ribbons. After preliminary morphological and microstructural characterizations, the influence of the film deposition on the functional, mechanical, and tribological behavior was deeply investigated. The macroscopic mechanical properties, including the damping, superelastic, and shape recovery characteristics, were not affected since the behavior upon both small and severe deformations was unchanged and the coatings were not damaged. Indeed, both the film adhesion and the precious aspect were maintained. Furthermore, a more detailed surface characterization, through nanoindentation, tribocorrosion, and scratch and wear tests, was performed. This experimental investigation evidenced the ductile behavior of the Au-based films and their good adhesion on NiTi substrates. Moreover, the coatings exhibited a good wear resistance, both in dry conditions and simulated body fluids, which proved to be suitable for fashion and watchmaking fields. Despite slight differences being observed within the films’ responses, all of them could be considered suitable and interesting for the design of smart luxury accessories, proving that the chosen deposition process is sound and reliable for these applications.

Source: coatings



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