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The advantages of depositing AlN–SiC alloy transition layers on SiC substrates before the seeded growth of bulk AlN crystals were examined. The presence of AlN–SiC alloy layers helped to suppress the SiC decomposition by providing vapor sources of silicon and carbon. In addition, cracks in the final AlN crystals decreased from ∼5 × 106/mm2 for those grown directly on SiC substrates to less than 1 × 106/mm2 for those grown on AlN–SiC alloy layers because of the intermediate lattice constants and thermal expansion coefficient of AlN–SiC. X-ray diffraction confirmed the formation of pure single-crystalline AlN upon both AlN–SiC alloys and SiC substrates. X-ray topography (XRT) demonstrated that strains present in the AlN crystals decreased as the AlN grew thicker. However, the XRT for AlN crystals grown directly on SiC substrates was significantly distorted with a high overall defect density compared to those grown on AlN–SiC alloys.
Microstructural characterization of thin alumina scales formed on oxidized Ni-base alloys using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has long been a challenge as a result of the many problems encountered during the preparation of thin specimens. Successful and reproducible preparation of uniformly thin, cross-section TEM specimens from these multicomponent “layered” structures (alumina scale on a metallic substrate) is extremely difficult using standard ion beam thinning procedures for several reasons: (1) differential thinning of the various constituents in the system can occur, (2) a weak ceramic-metal interface may lead to separation during the harsh mechanical grinding and thinning procedure, (3) fully intact scales are rarely achieved since native surface structures are usually lost during ion milling, and (4) extensive damage can be created in the scale and alloy during rough grinding and polishing steps as well as during final ion beam thinning.
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