Solving Problems in Surface Engineering and Tribology by Means of Analytical Electron Microscopy
Abstract: It is well known that thin coatings can provide increased lifetime and reduced energy consumption for tools and components. During use, e.g. in sliding contact, mechanical and chemical reactions often lead to the formation of new surface layers, tribofilms, possessing different properties compared to the original surface, hence affecting the overall performance. In this work, analytical electron microscopy was applied to investigate the structure and composition of tribofilms.Concerning coatings, deposition parameter dependencies, stability and tribology were investigated. The carbon content of hydrogen-free TiCx coatings was shown to significantly influence the morphology. Low carbon content resulted in columnar grains with a strong texture while high carbon content led to the formation of randomly ordered TiCx crystals. The application of positive bias to the substrate as opposed to the normally used negative bias gave a fibrous structure of sputtered TiB2 and low residual stress with maintained hardness. Further, oxidation stability was examined on a (Ta,Al)C:C coating where oxidation led to partial oxidation and formation of AlTaO4 with an 8 nm interface.A focused ion beam instrument was used to extract samples from certain areas of worn specimens. Tribological contact was observed to result in phase changes and intermixing of materials present in the contact. Sliding contact involving a Co-alloy led to a phase change from fcc to hcp. A 30 nm Co-rich tribofilm was observed with basal planes parallel to the surface. Fully formulated oil was found to inflict considerable wear to a metal doped carbon film through chemical reaction with the metal dopant. WC/Co cemented carbide used for rock drilling exhibited intermixing of rock and Co binder phase after field tests. Chemical vapour deposited diamond worn in nitrogen and argon showed formation of wear debris with amorphous structure containing nitrogen and graphitic like structure, respectively.
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