Diffusion driven high-temperature oxidation is one of the most important failure mechanisms of protective thin films in industrial applications. Within this study, we investigated the diffusion of oxygen at 800 to 1100 °C through nano-laminated crystalline Ti-Al-N and amorphous Mo-Si-B based multilayer coatings. The most prominent oxygen diffusion pathways, and hence the weakest points for oxidation, were identified by combining ¹⁸O tracer diffusion and atom probe tomography. An oxygen inward diffusion along column boundaries within Ti-Al-N layers in front of a visually prevalent oxidation front could be proven, highlighting the importance of these fast diffusion pathways. Furthermore, the amorphous Mo-Si-B layers act as barriers and therefore mitigate the migration of oxygen by accumulating reactive O species at a nanoscale range. Preventing oxygen diffusion along column boundaries – through the implementation of amorphous interlayers – lead to paralinear oxidation behavior and stable scales even after 7 h at 1100 °C. Our results provide a detailed insight on the importance of morphological features such as grain and column boundaries during high-temperature oxidation of protective thin films, in addition to their chemistry.


E. Aschauer, T. Wojcik, P. Polcik, O. Hunold, M. Arndt, V. Dalbauer, P.H. Mayrhofer, P. Felfer, H. Riedl


Materials & Design