The tribological performance of AISI 52100 substrates subjected to several surface treatments have been evaluated in rolling, sliding, and mixed mode contact. The surface treatments include a boron-doped diamond-like carbon (B-DLC) coating deposited by plasma-assisted magnetron sputtering, an ultrasonic nanocrystal surface modification (UNSM) technique used to generate severe plastic deformation in the near surface of the steel specimens, and a B-DLC coating applied to a UNSM pretreated surface. In general, the tribological performance of the duplex surface treatment was superior to that of the untreated specimens and of the specimens with the other surface treatments in rolling, sliding, and mixed mode contact. The improved tribological performance of the duplex process was attributed to the combination of increased wear resistance provided by the B-DLC coating and the grain refinement of the martensitic structure of the AISI 52100 imparted by the UNSM process that created a beneficial substrate/coating interface.
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