The applications of multicomponent coatings (such as doped ternary or quaternary coatings) with superior functional properties have been shown to efficiently and sustainably improve the life span of engineering materials. This study reports the synergistic effect of negative substrate bias voltages Us and reactive gas QN2 ratio on the properties of phosphorous (P) microalloyed Ti1−xAl0.8xP0.2xN multicomponent coatings deposited using high power impulse magnetron sputtering. It is found that an increase of Us enhances the densification of the deposited coatings, with mixed cubic (c)-TiN and cubic (c)-AlN phases, as identified from the XRD pattern analysis. Furthermore, Raman spectroscopy showed that the incorporation of Al and P into the TiN structure increases the gap region between the acoustic and optic bands. An optimized mechanical property of the coatings, with a maximum hardness of 28.6 GPa was measured at Us = − 40 V and QN2 = 7 SCCM, and improved adhesion of coatings with H/E > 0.081, was possible. Improved corrosion resistance was also measured for microalloyed TiAlPN coatings. The microalloying of P with TiAlN has, thus, been shown to affect both the anodic and cathodic reactions and inhibit the corrosion of AISI 5206 steel.

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