Iron-carbon based hard, martensitic alloys are usually produced by conventional high temperature heat treatment. In the present work, the galvanostatic electrodeposition method has been employed to obtain hard Fe-0.96 mass % C and Fe-15.4 mass% Ni-0.70 mass% C alloys at around room temperature. The alloys have been investigated by SEM, XPS, XRD, and microhardness measurements, and their magnetic properties have been studied by vibrating sample magnetometer.
The as-deposited alloys were found to possess high mechanical hardness, 750-810 HV. Both alloys exhibit a smoother surface morphology as compared to a non-alloyed iron film obtained under similar electrochemical conditions. The coercive force of the as-deposited Fe-C and Fe-Ni-C alloys is 3930 and 494 A.m−1 respectively. In comparison, pure iron film deposited under similar conditions possesses a coercive force of 1592 A.m−1. The Fe-Ni-C alloy has a combination of high mechanical hardness and relatively soft magnetic properties, which may be of interest in potential applications requiring both soft magnetic properties and improved tribological performance. The effects of annealing on the behavior of the alloys are discussed.