Bearing rollers were coated with CNx films using high power impulse magnetron sputtering deposition in order to reduce their rolling-contact fatigue as investigated using a Micro-Pitting Rig tribometer under poly-alpha-olefin lubricated conditions. Coated rollers with a ~15 nm thick W adhesion layer to the substrate, exhibit the best performance, presenting mild wear and no fatigue after 700 kcycles. The steady-state friction coefficient was ~0.05 for both uncoated and coated rollers. Uncoated rollers show run-in friction in the first 50 kcycles, because of steel-to-steel contact, which is absent for coated rollers. Analytical transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy show that the presence of a CNx coating prevents steel-to-steel contact of the counterparts, prior to the elastohydrodynamic lubrication, reducing their wear and increasing the lifetime expectancy.
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