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Residual Stress and Microstructural Evolution in Tantalum Oxide Coatings on Silicon Nitride

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Due to its coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and phase stability up to 1360°C, tantalum oxide (Ta2O5) was identified and investigated as a candidate environmental barrier coating for silicon nitride-based ceramics. Ta2O5 coatings were plasma sprayed onto AS800, a silicon nitride ceramic from Honeywell International, and subjected to static and cyclic heat treatments up to 1200°C in air. Cross-sections from coated and uncoated substrates were polished and etched to reveal the effect of heat treatments on microstructure and grain size. As-sprayed coatings contained vertical cracks that healed after thermal exposure. Significant grain growth that was observed in the coatings led to microcracking due to the anisotropic CTE of Ta2O5. High-energy X-ray diffraction was used to determine the effect of heat treatment on residual stress and phases. The uncoated substrates were found to have a surface compressive layer before and after thermal cycling. Coating stresses in the as-sprayed state were found to be tensile, but became compressive after heat treatment. The microcracking and buckling that occurred in the heat-treated coatings led to stress relaxation after long heat treatments, but ultimately would be detrimental to the function of the coating as an environmental barrier by affording open pathways for volatile species to reach the underlying ceramic.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208 2: Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439 3: Honeywell International, Morristown, New Jersey 07960

Publication date: 2005-08-01

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