Closed field unbalanced magnetron sputtering was used to deposit diamond-like carbon (Ti-C:H) coatings on Ti6Al4V alloy and gas nitrided Ti6Al4V alloy. Four different specimens were prepared, namely untreated Ti6Al4V alloy (Ti6Al4V), gas nitrided Ti6Al4V alloy (N-Ti6Al4V), Ti-C:H-coated Ti6Al4V alloy (Ti-C:H/Ti6Al4V) and Ti-C:H-coated gas nitrided Ti6Al4V alloy (Ti-C:H/N-Ti6Al4V). The tribological properties of the four specimens were evaluated using a reciprocating wear tester sliding against a Si3N4 ball (point contact mode) and 316L stainless steel cylinder (line contact mode). The wear tests were performed in a 0.89 wt.% NaCl solution. The results showed that the nitriding treatment increased the surface roughness and hardness of the Ti6Al4V alloy and improved the wear resistance as a result. In addition, the Ti-C:H coating also improved the tribological performance of Ti6Al4V. For example, compared to the untreated Ti6Al4V sample, the Ti-C:H coating reduced the wear depth and friction coefficient by 340 times and 10 times, respectively, in the point contact wear mode, and 151 times and 9 times, respectively, in the line contact wear mode. It is thus inferred that diamond-like carbon coatings are of significant benefit in extending the service life of artificial biomedical implants.
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