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Mechanical properties and microstructures of metal/ceramic microlaminates: Part I. Nb/MoSi2 systems

  • T.C. Chou (a1), T.G. Nieh (a1), T.Y. Tsui (a2), G.M. Pharr (a2) and W.C. Oliver (a3)...


Artificial multilayers, or microlaminates, composed of alternating layers of Nb and MoSi2 of equal thickness were synthesized by d.c., magnetron sputtering. Four different modulation wavelengths, λ, were studied: 7, 11, 20, and 100 nm. The compositions, periodicities, and microstructures of the microlaminates were characterized by Auger electron spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Structural characterization revealed that the as-deposited Nb layers are polycrystalline, while the MoSi2 layers are amorphous. The hardnesses and elastic moduli of the films were measured using nanoindentation techniques. Neither a supermodulus nor a superhardness effect could be identified in the range of wavelengths investigated; for each of the microlaminates, both the hardness and modulus were found to fall between the bounds set by the properties of the monolithic Nb and MoSi2 films. Nevertheless, a modest but a measurable increase in both hardness and modulus with decreasing wavelength was observed, thus indicating that behavior cannot be entirely described by a simple rule-of-mixtures. The hardness was found to vary linearly with Δ−1/2 in a manner similar to the Hall–Petch relationship. Annealing the microlaminates at 800 °C for 90 min produces significant increases in hardness and modulus due to chemical interaction of the layers.



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Journal of Materials Research
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