Nanoindentation of YSZ-alumina ceramic thin films grown by combustion chemical vapor deposition
Stollberg, David Walter
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Combustion chemical vapor deposition (combustion CVD) is a thin film deposition process that uses a flame created by the ignition of an aerosol containing precursors dissolved in a flammable solvent. Combustion CVD is a relatively new technique for creating thin film oxide coatings. Combustion CVD has been successfully used to deposit high quality thin oxide films for potential applications such as thermal barrier coatings, dielectric thin films, composite interlayer coatings, etc. The present work involved developing the optimum parameters for deposition of thin films of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ), alumina (Al₂O₃), and YSZ-alumina composites followed by a determination of the mechanical properties of the films (measured using nanoindentation) as a function of composition. The optimized parameters for deposition of YSZ, alumina, and YSZ-alumina composites onto single crystal a-plane alumina involved using an organic liquid as the flammable solvent and Y 2-ethylhexanoate, Zr 2-ethylhexanoate and Al acetylacetonate as the metal precursors at a 0.002 M concentration delivered at 4 ml/min at flame temperatures of 155 ℃ and substrate temperatures of 105 ℃. The resulting films were grown with deposition rates of ~ 1.5 μm/hr. Measurement of the mechanical properties (hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness) of the films was performed using a mechanical properties microprobe called the Nanoindenter®. In order to obtain valid results from nanoindentation, the combustion CVD films were optimized for minimum surface roughness and grown to a thickness of approximately 0.8 μm. With the penetration depth of the indenter at approximately 150 nm, the 800 nm thickness of the film made influences of the substrate on the measurements negligible. The hardnesses and elastic moduli of the YSZ-alumina films did not vary with the composition of the film. The fracture toughness, however, did show a dependence on the composition. It was found that second phase particles of alumina grown into a YSZ matrix increased the fracture toughness of the films (on average, 1.76 MPa• m⁰.⁵ for 100% YSZ to 2.49 MPa• m⁰.⁵ for 70 mol% YSZ/30 mol% alumina). Similarly, second phase particles of YSZ grown into an alumina matrix also increased the fracture toughness (on average, 2.20 MPa• m⁰.⁵ for 100% alumina to 2.45 MPa• m⁰.⁵ for 37.2 mol% YSZ/62.8 mol% alumina). Modeling of the fracture toughness of the YSZ-alumina films was successfully achieved by using the following toughening mechanisms: crack deflection from the second phase particles, grain bridging around the particles, and residual stress from the CTE mismatch between the film and the substrate and between the second phase particles and the matrix of the film.