The effect of Si content on the fracture toughness of CrAlN/Si3N4 coatings

Liu, S.; Wheeler, J. M.; Davis, C. E.; Clegg, W. J.; Zeng, X. T.

Journal of Applied Physics 119 (2016)

CrAlN/Si3N4 nanocomposite coatings with different Si contents were deposited to understand how Si influences the microstructure and mechanical behaviour of the coatings, in particular, the fracture toughness. The coating composition, chemical bonding, microstructure, and mechanical properties were studied by energy dispersive spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, and nanoindentation, respectively. Using a micro double cantilever beam sample, it was found that the fracture toughness of CrAlN/Si3N4 coatings was higher than that of both the CrN and CrAlN coatings and increased with increasing Si content. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy suggested that this was caused by the suppression of cracking at columnar boundaries.