Journal of Advanced Ceramics

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 143–151 | Cite as

Incipient low-temperature formation of MAX phase in Cr–Al–C films

  • O. Crisan
  • A. D. Crisan
Open Access
Research Article


Ceramic-metallic MAX phase of chromium aluminium carbide ternary compounds was successfully obtained through deposition by DC sputtering onto Si substrates. A study of the influence of substrate temperature and in-air post-annealing on the film crystallinity and oxidation was undertaken. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), wavelength-dispersive X-ray analysis (WDSX), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) were used for film characterization. It is shown that, at substrate temperature of about 450 °C, as-deposited films are amorphous with small nanocrystals. Subsequent annealing in air at 700 °C leads to film crystallization and partial oxidation. WDSX spectroscopy shows that the films oxidise to a depth of around 120 nm, or 5% of total film thickness which amounts at around 2.68 μm. As a novelty, this demonstrates the possibility of in-air crystallization of Cr2AlC films without significant oxidation. Materials Analysis Using Diffraction (MAUD) software package for a full-profile analysis of the XRD patterns (Rietveld-type) was used to determine that, as a result of annealing, the average crystallite size changes from 7 to 34 nm, while microstrain decreases from 0.79% to 0.24%. A slight tendency of preferential growth along the (10ī0) direction has been observed. Such texturing of the microstructure has the potential of inducing beneficial anisotropic fracture behaviour in the coatings, potentially interesting for several industrial applications in load-bearing devices.


ternary carbides DC sputtering annealing crystallization X-ray diffraction (XRD) wavelength-dispersive X-ray analysis (WDSX) 



Financial support from Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation from project PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0833 is gratefully acknowledged.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Open Access The articles published in this journal are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Materials PhysicsBucharest, MagureleRomania

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