Zirconium diboride (ZrB2) represents a promising hard coating material for demanding high-temperature applications and could provide an excellent basis for fine-tuning mechanical properties via the concept of alloying. Here, combining density functional theory and experiments, we investigate the effect of aluminum alloying on thermally induced structure evolution and mechanical properties of α-structured Zr1 − xAlxB2 + Δ. Ab initio calculations predict a strong tendency for spinodal phase separation of hexagonal Zr1 − xAlxB2 solid solution into isostructural binaries. Experimental results confirm predictions of the insolubility of aluminum in the ZrB2 phase when the structure of magnetron co-sputtered Zr0.72Al0.28B2.64 films with an aluminum content of 8 at. % has a nanocomposite character consisting of hexagonal α-ZrB2 nanocolumns surrounded by an amorphous Al-rich tissue phase. The films are structurally stable up to 1100 °C but out-diffusion of Al atoms from boundary regions during annealing was observed. Al alloying causes a significant decrease in hardness when the hardness of the reference as-deposited ZrB2.2 and Zr0.72Al0.28B2.64 is 39 and 23 GPa, respectively. Low hardening effect in ternaries was observed after annealing at 1000 °C when the hardness increased from 23.5 to 26.5 GPa due to the locally increased concentration of point defects at the boundaries of the nanocolumns and Al-rich tissue phases. Young's modulus decrease from 445 (ZrB2.2) to 345 GPa (Zr0.72Al0.28B2.64) indicates a change in the mechanical response of the ternary film toward more ductile behavior.
Structure evolution and mechanical properties of co-sputtered Zr-Al-B2 thin films
Tomáš Fiantok, Viktor Šroba, Nikola Koutná, Vitalii Izai, Tomáš Roch, Martin Truchlý, Marek Vidiš, Leonid Satrapinskyy, Štefan Nagy, Branislav Grančič, Peter Kúš, Marián Mikula; Structure evolution and mechanical properties of co-sputtered Zr-Al-B2 thin films. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 1 May 2022; 40 (3): 033414. https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0001802
Download citation file: