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Title: Superhard Boron-Rich Boron Carbide with Controlled Degree of Crystallinity
Superhard boron-rich boron carbide coatings were deposited on silicon substrates by microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition (MPCVD) under controlled conditions, which led to either a disordered or crystalline structure, as measured by X-ray diffraction. The control of either disordered or crystalline structures was achieved solely by the choice of the sample being placed either directly on top of the sample holder or within an inset of the sample holder, respectively. The carbon content in the B-C bonded disordered and crystalline coatings was 6.1 at.% and 4.5 at.%, respectively, as measured by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. X-ray diffraction analysis of the crystalline coating provided a good match with a B50C2-type structure in which two carbon atoms replaced boron in the α-tetragonal B52 structure, or in which the carbon atoms occupied different interstitial sites. Density functional theory predictions were used to evaluate the dynamical stability of the potential B50C2 structural forms and were consistent with the measurements. The measured nanoindentation hardness of the coatings was as high as 64 GPa, well above the 40 GPa threshold for superhardness.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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