Effects of decomposition route and microstructure on h-AlN formation rate in TiCrAlN alloys


The phase evolution of cubic (c), solid solution TixCr∼0.37Al1−0.37−xN alloys with x = 0.03 and 0.16, and the kinetics of the hexagonal (h)-AlN formation are studied via in situ wide angle x-ray scattering experiments during high temperature (1000–1150 °C) annealing. Spinodal decomposition was observed in Ti0.16Cr0.36Al0.48N while Ti0.03Cr0.38Al0.59N decomposes through nucleation and growth of h-AlN, c-TiN and c-CrAlN. h-AlN is formed from c-CrAlN domains in both cases and the formation rate of h-AlN depends on the stability of the c-CrAlN domains. In Ti0.16Cr0.36Al0.48N, the c-CrAlN domains are stabilized by crystallographic coherency with the surrounding c-TiCrN in a microstructure originating from spinodal decomposition. This results in lower formation rates of h-AlN for this composition. These differences are reflected in higher activation energy for h-AlN formation in Ti0.16Cr0.36Al0.48N compared to Ti0.03Cr0.38Al0.59N. It also points out different stabilities of the intermediate phase c-CrAlN during phase decomposition of TiCrAlN alloys. Additional contributions to the low activation energy for formation of h-AlN in Ti0.03Cr0.38Al0.59N stems from precipitation at grain boundaries.
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