"SiNx/TiN nano-waffle"

Mr Javier Bareņo. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (United States)

Image Description:
One of the most promising routes to achieve new coating materials with hardness comparable to, or higher than, diamond is through thermodynamically-driven segregation of immiscible phases. An archetypical example of such system is nanocomposite (nc-) SiNx/TiN, which consists of a set of nanometer-sized TiN crystals embedded in an amorphous SiNx matrix, formed during spinodal decomposition of a Ti-Si-N alloy. This image shows a 23.6 nm x 20.4 nm area of a (NaCl structure) TiN(001) onto which SiNx has been deposited to a sub-monolayer coverage. The SiNx induces surface reconstruction into a mesh of wires, approximately 1 nm wide and 0.12 nm tall, oriented along <110> directions that span both the terrace and the central island. The island height is approximately 0.22 nm, corresponding well to the TiN(001) interplanar distance (0.212 nm). This image suggests that the structure of the internal SiNx/TiN interfaces in nc-SiNx/TiN may be much more complicated than previously thought.


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