Low and increased solubility of silicon in metal nitrides: evidence by X-ray absorption near edge structure
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Adding silicon to transition metal nitride (MN) films has been reported to significantly improve many of their mechanical properties including hardness, toughness, and oxidation resistance [1, 2]. As a result, the influence of microstructure on the mechanical properties of silicon-containing metal nitrides has been a subject of intensive investigation for more than a decade . Most microstructural studies of these materials report the formation of two-phase nanocomposite systems composed of nanocrystalline (nc) metal nitride grains embedded in an amorphous silicon nitride (a-Si:N) matrix . This formation of nanocomposite microstructures has been explained by the lower free energy of the separate phases in comparison to that of ternary or quaternary nitride compounds. It has been argued that because the phase segregation rate is diffusion-controlled, temperatures above 500 °C are needed in order to constraint any solubility of silicon into the metal nitride . This claim has...
KeywordsMetal Nitride Amorphous Silicon Nitride Spectral Lineshape Amorphous Si3N4 Main Absorption Edge
The authors would like to acknowledge the support by the EU-Research Infrastructure Action under the FP6 Structuring the European Research Area Programme through the contract R II 3-CT-2004-506008. Technical assistance during x-ray fluorescence measurements at BESSY by R. Mitdank is also gratefully acknowledged.
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