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Giant two-phonon Raman scattering from nanoscale NbC precipitates in Nb
Physics Department, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, USA, Argonne Natl Lab, Div Mat Sci, Argonne, IL 60439 USA .
Physics Department, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois USA.
Physics Department, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
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2015 (English)In: Physical Review B Condensed Matter, ISSN 0163-1829, E-ISSN 1095-3795, Vol. 91, no 9, 094302Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

High purity niobium (Nb), subjected to the processing methods used in the fabrication of superconducting RF cavities, displays micron-sized surface patches containing excess carbon. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy measurements are presented which reveal the presence of nanoscale NbC coherent precipitates in such regions. Raman backscatter spectroscopy on similar surface regions exhibit spectra consistent with the literature results on bulk NbC but with significantly enhanced two-phonon scattering. The unprecedented strength and sharpness of the two-phonon signal has prompted a theoretical analysis, using density functional theory (DFT), of phonon modes in NbC for two different interface models of the coherent precipitate. One model leads to overall compressive strain and a comparison to ab-initio calculations of phonon dispersion curves under uniform compression of the NbC shows that the measured two-phonon peaks are linked directly to phonon anomalies arising from strong electron-phonon interaction. Another model of the extended interface between Nb and NbC, studied by DFT, gives insight into the frequency shifts of the acoustic and optical mode density of states measured by first order Raman. The exact origin of the stronger two-phonon response is not known at present but it suggests the possibility of enhanced electron-phonon coupling in transition metal carbides under strain found either in the bulk NbC inclusions or at their interfaces with Nb metal. Preliminary tunneling studies using a point contact method show some energy gaps larger than expected for bulk NbC.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Physical Society , 2015. Vol. 91, no 9, 094302
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-115403DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.91.094302ISI: 000351036900002OAI: diva2:795358

The authors thank G. Ciovati of Jefferson Laboratory for supplying Nb samples used in this study. Calculations (H.L.) were performed with financial support by the SSF-project Designed multicomponent coatings, MultiFilms and the Swedish Research Council. Calculations were carried out at the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), Argonne LCRC and Argonne Center for Nanoscale Materials. The work at Argonne National Laboratory and the use of the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Electron Microscopy center at Argonne National Laboratory were supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. This work was also supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of High Energy Physics, early career award FWP#50335 to T.P.

Available from: 2015-03-16 Created: 2015-03-16 Last updated: 2015-04-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Theoretical understanding of stability of alloys for hard-coating applications and design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Theoretical understanding of stability of alloys for hard-coating applications and design
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The performance of modern hard coating materials puts high demands on properties such as hardness, thermal stability and oxidation resistance. These properties not only depend on the chemical composition, but also on the structure of the material on a nanoscale. This kind of nanostructuring will change during use and can be both beneficial and detrimental as materials grown under non-equilibrium conditions transforms under heat treatment or pressure into other structures with significantly different properties. This thesis aims to reveal the physics behind the processes of phase stability and transformations and how this can be utilized to improve on the properties of this class of alloys. This has been achieved through the application of various methods of first-principles calculations and analysis of the results on the basis of thermodynamics and electronic structure theory.

Within multicomponent transition metal aluminum nitride alloys (TMAlN) a number of studies have been carried out and presented here on ways of improving high temperature stability and hardness. Most (TMAl)N and TMN prefer a cubic B1 structure while AlN is stable in a hexagonal B4 phase, but for the purposes of hard coatings the metastable cubic B1 AlN phase, isostructural with the TMN phase is desired. It will be shown how the introduction of additional alloying components, such as Cr, into (TiAl)N changes the thermodynamic stability of phases so that new intermediary and metastable phases are formed during decomposition. In the case of such a (CrAl)N phase it is shown to have greater thermodynamic stability in the cubic phase than the pure AlN, resulting in improved high temperature hardness. Also, the importance of treating not just the binodal decomposition through the formation energy relative to end products but also the impact of spinodal decomposition from its second derivative due to the topology of formation energy surfaces is emphasized in the thesis. The impact of pressure on the AlN phase has also been studied through the calculation of a P-T diagram of AlN as part of a (TiAl)N alloy.

During the study of chemical alloying of TM components into AlN the alloying of low concentrations of these TM were treated in great detail. What is generally referred to as the AlN phase in decomposition is not entirely pure and can be expected to contain traces of any alloying components, such as Ti and Cr or whatever other metals may be present. Low concentration alloying of Cr, on the order of 5-10% is also shown to be stable with regard to isostructural decomposition. Detailed analysis of the effect of Ti and Cr impurities in AlN has been carried out along with a systematic search of AlN alloyed with small amounts of other TM components. The impact of these impurities on the electronic structure and thermodynamic properties is analyzed and the general trends will be explained through the occupation of impurity states by d-like electrons.

Theoretical treatment of such impurities is not straightforward however. AlN is an s-p semiconductor with a wide band gap while TM impurities generate states of a d-like nature situated inside the band gap. Such localized impurity states are expected to give rise to magnetic effects due to spin dependent exchange, in addition strong correlation effects might have to be taken into account. For that reason the use of hybrid functionals with orbital corrections according to the mHSE+Vw scheme, developed specifically for this class of materials, has been used and shown to influence the results during calculation of impurities of Ti and Cr.

In nanocomposite multilayered structures, composed of very thin layers of one material sandwiched between slabs of another, such as layers of SiN between TiN or ZrN, the material properties are greatly affected by the interfaces. In addition to the thermodynamic effects and lattice strains of the interfaces one also has to consider the atomic vibrational motion in the interface structure. Hence, dynamical stability of these thin multilayers is of great importance. As part of this thesis, results on the thermodynamic and dynamical stability of both TiN-SiN layers and ZrN-SiN will be presented. It will be shown that due to considerable dynamical instability in the interface structure of monolayered B1 SiN sandwiched between isostructural layers of B1 ZrN along (111) interfaces this structure cannot be expected to grow, instead preferring the stable (001) direction of growth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 73 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1647
National Category
Physical Sciences Materials Engineering
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-115405 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-115405 (DOI)978-91-7519-112-6 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-04-10, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-03-16 Created: 2015-03-16 Last updated: 2015-03-16Bibliographically approved

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