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Resolving Mass Spectral Overlaps in Atom Probe Tomography by Isotopic Substitutions: Case of TiSi15N
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Sandvik Coromant, Stockholm, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.
2018 (English)In: Ultramicroscopy, ISSN 0304-3991, E-ISSN 1879-2723, Vol. 184, p. 51-60Article in journal (Refereed) Published
##### Abstract [en]

Mass spectral overlaps in atom probe tomography (APT) analyses of complex compounds typically limit the identification of elements and microstructural analysis of a material. This study concerns the TiSiN system, chosen because of severe mass-to-charge-state ratio overlaps of the 14N+ and 28Si2+ peaks as well as the 14N$\tiny\frac{+}{2}$ and 28Si2+ peaks. By substituting 14N with 15N, mass spectrum peaks generated by ions composed of one or more N atoms will be shifted toward higher mass-to-charge-state ratios, thereby enabling the separation of N from the predominant Si isotope. We thus resolve thermodynamically driven Si segregation on the nanometer scale in cubic phase Ti1-xSix15N thin films for Si contents 0.08 ≤ x ≤ 0.19 by APT, as corroborated by transmission electron microscopy. The APT analysis yields a composition determination that is in good agreement with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and elastic recoil detection analyses. Additionally, a method for determining good voxel sizes for visualizing small-scale fluctuations is presented and demonstrated for the TiSiN system.

##### Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 184, p. 51-60
##### National Category
Physical Sciences
##### Identifiers
ISI: 000415650200007PubMedID: 28850866OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-122721DiVA, id: diva2:872173
##### Note

Funding Agencies:VINN Excellence Center on Functional Nanoscale Materials (FunMat) [2007-00863]; Swedish Research Council (VR) project [2013-4018]; Swedish Government Strategic Research Area Grant in Materials Science (Grant SFO Mat-LiU) on Advanced Functional Materials [2009-00971]; Knut and Alice Wallenberg Project Isotope

Available from: 2015-11-18 Created: 2015-11-18 Last updated: 2019-08-01Bibliographically approved
##### In thesis
1. Atom Probe Tomography of TiSiN Thin Films
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Atom Probe Tomography of TiSiN Thin Films
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
##### Abstract [en]

This thesis concerns the wear resistant coating TiSiN and the development of the analysis technique atom probe tomography (APT) applied to this materials system. The technique delivers compositional information through time-of-flight mass spectrometry, with sub-nanometer precision in 3D for a small volume of the sample. It is thus a powerful technique for imaging the local distribution of elements in micro and nanostructures. To gain the full benefits of the technique for the materials system in question, I have developed a method that combines APT with isotopic substitution, here demonstrated by substitution of natN with 15N. This alters the time-of-flight of ions with of one or more N and will thereby enable the differentiation of the otherwise inseparable isotopes 14N and 28Si. Signs of small-scale fluctuations in the data led the development of an algorithm needed to properly visualize these fluctuations. A method to identify the best sampling parameter for visualization of small-scale compositional fluctuations was added to an algorithm originally designed to find the best sampling parameters for measuring and visualizing strong compositional variations. With the identified sampling parameters, the nano-scale compositional fluctuations of Si in the metal/metalloid sub-lattice could be visualized. The existence and size of these fluctuations were corroborated by radial distribution functions, a technique independent of the previously determined sampling parameter. The radial distribution function algorithm was also developed further to ease in the interpretation. The number of curves could thereby be reduced by showing elements, rather than single and molecular ions (of which there were several different kinds). The improvement of the algorithm also allowed interpretation of signs regarding the stoichiometry of SiNy. With a combination of analytical transmission electron microscopy and APT we show Si segregation on the nanometer scale in arc-deposited Ti0.92Si0.0815N and Ti0.81Si0.1915N thin films. APT composition maps and proximity histograms generated from Ti-rich domains show that the TiN contain at least ~2 at. % Si for Ti0.92Si0.08N and ~5 at. % Si for Ti0.81Si0.19N, thus confirming the formation of solid solutions. The formation of relatively pure SiNy domains in the Ti0.81Si0.19N films is tied to pockets between microstructured, columnar features in the film. Finer SiNy enrichments seen in APT possibly correspond to tissue layers around TiN crystallites, thus effectively hindering growth of TiN crystallites, causing TiN renucleation and thus explaining the featherlike nanostructure within the columns of these films.

##### Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1733
##### National Category
Physical Sciences
##### Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122724 (URN)10.3384/lic.diva-122724 (DOI)978-91-7685-901-8 (ISBN)
##### Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-18 Created: 2015-11-18 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved
2. Atom Probe Tomography of Hard Nitride and Boride Thin Films
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Atom Probe Tomography of Hard Nitride and Boride Thin Films
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
##### Abstract [en]

Hard ceramic thin films, including TiSiN, ZrAlN, ZrB2, and ZrTaB2, with applications for wear-resistant coatings, have been studied using atom probe tomography and correlated with several other analytical techniques, including X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, and elastic recoil detection analysis. Outstanding obstacles for quantitative atom probe tomography of ceramic thin films have been surmounted.

Mass spectral overlaps in TiSiN, which make 28Si indistinguishable from 14N, was resolved by isotopic substitution with 15N, and the nanostructural distribution of elements was thus revealed in 3-D, which enabled the identification of additional structural elements within the nanostructured Ti0.81Si0.1915N film. Improvements to the growth model of TiSiN by cathodic arc deposition was suggested.

A self-organized nanolabyrinthine structure of ZrAlN, consisting of standing lamellae of fcc-ZrN and hexagonal AlN, was investigated with focus on the onset and limits of the self-organization. The local crystallographic orientational relationships were (001)ZrN || (0001)AlN and <110>ZrN || <2-1-10>AlN. Close to the MgO substrates, a smooth transition region was formed, going from segregated and disordered to the self-organized nanolabyrinthine structure. With increased growth temperature, coarse (111)-oriented ZrN grains occasionally precipitated and locally replaced the nanolabyrinthine structure. Significant local magnification effects rendered the Zr and N signals unusable, thereby inhibiting quantitative compositional analysis of the constituent phases, but the nanostructure was resolved using the Al signal.

Ceramic materials are often affected by correlated evaporation, which can result in losses due to the detector dead-time/space. A compositional correction procedure was suggested, tested against an established procedure, and applied to ZrB2. The correction was found to be less dependent on the isotope abundances and background correction compared to the established procedure. While losses due to dead-time/space occur in atom probe tomography of all materials, the correlative field evaporation behavior of ceramics significantly increases the compositional error. The evaporation behavior of ZrB2 was therefore thoroughly investigated and evidence of preferential retention, correlated evaporation, and inhomogeneous field distributions at a low-index pole was presented. The high mass resolution, relatively low multiple events percentage, and quality of the co-evaporation correlation data was partly attributed to the crystal structure and film orientation, which promoted a layer-by-layer field evaporation.

The evaporation behavior of the related ZrTaB2 films was found to be similar to that of ZrB2. The distribution of Ta in relation to Zr was investigated, showing that the column boundaries were both metal- and Ta-rich, and that there was a significant amount of Ta in solid solution within the columns.

In addition, an instrumental artefact previously not described in atom probe tomography was found in several of the materials investigated in this thesis. The artefact consists of high-density lines along the analysis direction, which cannot be related to pole artefacts. The detection system of the atom probe was identified as the cause, because the artefact patterns on detector histograms coincided with the structure of the microchannel plate. Inconsistencies in the internal boundaries of the microchannel plate multifibers from the manufacturing process can influence the signal to the detector and locally increase the detection efficiency in a pattern characteristic to the microchannel plate in question.

Altogether, this thesis shows that atom probe tomography of nitride and boride thin films is burdened by several artefacts and distortions, but that relevant material outcomes can nevertheless be achieved by informed choices of film isotopic constituents and analytical parameters, exclusion of heavily distorted regions (such as pole artefacts), and the use of compositional correction procedures when applicable.

##### Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1995
##### Keywords
Materials science, Atom probe tomography (APT), Ceramics, Nitrides, Borides
##### National Category
Physical Sciences Materials Engineering Ceramics
##### Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159187 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-159187 (DOI)9789176850435 (ISBN)
##### Public defence
2019-09-13, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
##### Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-02 Created: 2019-08-01 Last updated: 2019-09-20Bibliographically approved

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Engberg, DavidJensen, JensHultman, Lars

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Cite
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