Investigation of compositionally complex refractory metal based thin films
Abstract: The search for new and improved materials has led to the discovery and establishment of compositionally complex or high-entropy materials. The work in this thesis is focused on the investigation of new compositionally complex materials based on the refractory metals of groups 4-6. The materials in this work were synthesised using non-reactive dc magnetron sputtering and three material systems have been studied: HfNbTiVZr-C, CrTiTaWNb-C and Nb-Mo-C. In the context of compositionally complex materials, this thesis aims to contribute specifically to questions regarding (i) the prediction of phase formation and stability (ii) the chemical interaction between atoms (iii) the correlation between the material properties and compositional complexity. The prediction of phase formation and stability using calculated phase diagram (CALPHAD) methods was studied in the HfNbTiVZr-C system. The findings suggest that CALPHAD methods are promising predictive tools, although kinetic effects during synthesis need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, theoretical, and experimental evidence of charge transfer effects was demonstrated within the HfNbTiVZr-C system. The results of ab initio materials simulations and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) measurements highlight the importance of understanding and considering the local chemical environment and chemical interactions in compositionally complex materials.The approach of metal alloying according to the valence electron concentration (VEC) to tune the mechanical properties was studied in the Nb-Mo-C system. The findings show the importance of microstructural effects on the mechanical properties in the studied thin film materials, which can overshadow the compositional or VEC variations. The response to Xe heavy-ion irradiation was studied in the CrTiTaWNb-C system using in situ irradiation experiments. This work presents a comparison between three different compositions: a TaW-rich alloy and carbide thin film as well as a near-equimolar carbide film. The findings indicate that both microstructure and chemical homogeneity play important roles when it comes to radiation damage tolerance in compositional complex materials.This thesis demonstrates the elaborate and multifaceted nature of compositionally complex materials. Whether it comes to the fundamental understanding or the effective implementation of a materials design tool, many factors need to be taken into consideration, including chemical interactions between the constituent elements and microstructural effects.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)