Effect of synthesis temperature on the phase formation of NiTiAlFeCr compositionally complex alloy thin films
Liebscher, C. H.
Schneider, J. M.
The synthesis temperature dependent phase formation of Ni10Ti10Al25Fe35Cr20 thin films is compared to a bulk processed sample of identical composition. The as-cast alloy exhibits a dual-phase microstructure which is composed of a disordered BCC phase and AlNiTi-based B2- and/or L21-ordered phase(s). Formation of the BCC phase as well as an ordered AlNi-based B2 phase is observed for a thin film synthesised at 500 °C (ratio of synthesis temperature of thin film to melting temperature of bulk alloy: T/Tm = 0.49), which is attributed to both surface and bulk diffusion mediated growth. Post deposition annealing at 900 °C (T/Tm = 0.75) of a thin film deposited without intentional heating results in the formation of NiAlTi-based B2 and/or L21-phase(s) similar to the bulk sample, which is attributed to bulk diffusion. Depositions conducted at room temperature without intentional substrate heating (T/Tm = 0.20) resulted in the formation of an X-ray amorphous phase, while a substrate temperature increase to 175 °C (T/Tm = 0.28) causes the formation of a BCC phase. Atom probe tomography of the thin films deposited without intentional substrate heating and at 175 °C indicates the formation of ∼5 nm and ∼10 nm FeAl-rich domains, respectively. This can be rationalized based on the activation energy for surface diffusion, as Ti and Ni exhibit 2.5 to 4 times larger activation energy barriers than Al, Fe and Cr. It is evident from the homologous temperature that the phase formation observed at 500 °C (T/Tm = 0.49) is a result of both surface and bulk diffusion. As the temperature is reduced, the formation of FeAl-rich domains can be understood based on the differences in activation energy for surface diffusion and is consistent with kinetically limited thin film growth.