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A diffusion approach for plasma synthesis of superhard tantalum borides

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2019

Aaditya Rau
Affiliation:
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2682, USA
Kallol Chakrabarty
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, Center for Nanomaterials and Biointegration (CNMB), The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35394-1170, USA
William Gullion
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, Brigham Young University—Idaho, Rexburg, Idaho 83460, USA
Paul A. Baker
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, Center for Nanomaterials and Biointegration (CNMB), The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35394-1170, USA
Ilias Bikmukhametov
Affiliation:
Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA
Richard L. Martens
Affiliation:
Alabama Analytical Research Center, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA
Gregory B. Thompson
Affiliation:
Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA
Shane A. Catledge*
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, Center for Nanomaterials and Biointegration (CNMB), The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35394-1170, USA
*
a)Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: catledge@uab.edu
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Abstract

Microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition (MPCVD) was used to diffuse boron into tantalum using plasma initiated from a feedgas mixture containing hydrogen and diborane. The role of substrate temperature and substrate bias in influencing surface chemical structure and hardness was investigated. X-ray diffraction shows that increased temperature results in increased TaB2 formation (relative to TaB) along with increased strain in the tantalum body-centered cubic lattice. Once the strained tantalum becomes locally supersaturated with boron, TaB and TaB2 precipitate. Additional boron remains in a solid solution within the tantalum. The combination of precipitation and solid solution hardening along with boron-induced lattice strain may help explain the 40 GPa average hardness measured by nanoindentation. Application of negative substrate bias did not further increase the hardness, possibly due to etching from increased ion bombardment. These results show that MPCVD is a viable method for synthesis of superhard borides based on plasma-assisted diffusion.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2019

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Footnotes

*

A previous error in this article was corrected, please see doi:10.1557/jmr.2019.400.

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