What is it about?

By alloying the stable binary transition-metal nitrides TiN, CrN, ScN, HfN, ZrN with aluminum results in the hard and metastable pseudo-binary ternary alloys Ti1-xAlxN, Cr1-xAlxN, Sx1-xAlxN, Hf1-xAlxN and Zr1-xAlxN. We have investigated the nature of microstructure in alloys (bonding, ordering, domains, phase separation) to achieve improved wear protection at cutting tools edges or enhanced piezoelectric response in energy harvesting applications. Changes in internal interfaces and bonds as a function of Al alloying composition and number of interfaces has not been studied before. Using a X-ray absorption and Resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS), we probed the symmetry and orbital directions at the interfaces between cubic and hexagonal crystals and local chemistry that affects conductivity, oxidation resistance and hardness.

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Why is it important?

As shown in this work, resonant inelastic X-ray scattering/X-ray emission and X-ray absorption spectroscopy enables to probe the symmetry and orbital directions at interfaces between cubic and hexagonal crystals. We show that the microstructure contains three different kinds of bonding originating from semi-coherent interfaces with segregated ZrN and lamellar AlN nanocrystalline precipitates.


There are many potential applications of ternary alloys such as wear-resistant protective hard coatings for cutting tools and bearings, diffusion barriers and contact layers in microelectronics, piezo-electric response and thermoelectric applications, energy-harvesting applications, decorative coatings with gold-like colors.

Associate Prof. Martin Magnuson
Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM)

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This page is a summary of: Interface bonding of Zr1−xAlxN nanocomposites investigated by x-ray spectroscopies and first principles calculations, Physical Review Research, March 2020, American Physical Society (APS), DOI: 10.1103/physrevresearch.2.013328.
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