Effect of Silicon Content on the Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Ti-Si-B-C Nanocomposite Hard Coatings
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The content of the individual elements in the nanocomposite hard multicomponent coatings is known to affect the phase formation during deposition and the properties of the coatings. Silicon is one such element, which has been shown to improve or alter the properties of the nanocomposite hard coating systems. In the present work, we investigated the effect of Si addition on the microstructure, phase, and mechanical behavior of Ti-Si-B-C nanocomposite hard films deposited by direct current (DC) magnetron sputtering. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analyses reveal that, with the increase of Si content, SiB4 and TiSi2 softer phases (compared to the hard phases of TiB2 and B4C) are formed. The Ti-Si-B-C films deposited with 13.4 at. pct Si content show maximum hardness ~ 32.55 GPa and modulus ~ 381.6 GPa. With the increase of Si content in the films, the hardness and modulus are decreased. The H/E ratio, which is a measure of materials’ ability to take the strain prior to deformation, is also decreased with the increase of Si content, suggesting the lowering of toughness of the films with higher Si content.
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