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Direct Coating Adherent Diamond Films on Fe-Based Alloy Substrate: The Roles of Al, Cr in Enhancing Interfacial Adhesion and Promoting Diamond Growth

Li, X.J., He, L.L., Li, Y.S., Yang, Q., Hirose, A.
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2013 v.5 no.15 pp. 7370-7378
adhesion, alloys, aluminum, carbides, chemical analysis, chromium, graphene, iron, models, synergism, thermal expansion, transmission electron microscopy
Direct CVD deposition of dense, continuous, and adherent diamond films on conventional Fe-based alloys has long been considered impossible. The current study demonstrates that such a deposition can be realized on Al, Cr-modified Fe-based alloy substrate (FeAl or FeCrAl). To clarify the fundamental mechanism of Al, Cr in promoting diamond growth and enhancing interfacial adhesion, fine structure and chemical analysis around the diamond film–substrate interface have been comprehensively characterized by transmission electron microscopy. An intermediate graphite layer forms on those Al-free substrates such as pure Fe and FeCr, which significantly deteriorates the interfacial adhesion of diamond. In contrast, such a graphite layer is absent on the FeAl and FeCrAl substrates, whereas a very thin Al-rich amorphous oxide sublayer is always identified between the diamond film and substrate interface. These comparative results indicate that the Al-rich interfacial oxide layer acts as an effective barrier to prevent the formation of graphite phase and consequently enhance diamond growth and adhesion. The adhesion of diamond film formed on FeCrAl is especially superior to that formed on FeAl substrate. This can be further attributed to a synergetic effect including the reduced fraction of Al and the decreased substrate thermal-expansion coefficient on FeCrAl in comparison with FeAl, and a mechanical interlocking effect due to the formation of interfacial chromium carbides. Accordingly, a mechanism model is proposed to account for the different interfacial adhesion of diamond grown on the various Fe-based substrates.