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Superhard Tungsten Diboride-Based Solid Solutions

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journal contribution
posted on 05.12.2018, 14:34 by Lisa E. Pangilinan, Christopher L. Turner, Georgiy Akopov, Mackenzie Anderson, Reza Mohammadi, Richard B. Kaner
Solid solutions of tungsten diboride (WB2) with increasing substitution of tungsten (W) by tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb)ranging from 0 to 50 at. % on a metals basiswere synthesized through resistive arc melting. Samples were characterized using a combination of powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) for phase identification, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for elemental composition, Vickers microindentation for hardness measurements, and thermogravimetric analysis for thermal stability. The solubility limit was found to be less than 8 at. % for Nb and less than 10 at. % for Ta, as determined by PXRD. Vickers hardness (Hv) values were measured to be 40.3 ± 1.6 and 41.0 ± 1.2 GPa at 0.49 N for 6 at. % Nb and for 8 at. % Ta substitution, respectively. In addition, the hardest solid solution (W0.92Ta0.08B2) showed oxidation resistance up to ∼570 °C, approximately 70 °C higher than that of tungsten carbide (WC). Although pure WB2 is known not to be superhard, these results demonstrate the formation of superhard solid solutions through the substitution of tungsten by small amounts of transition metals. This increase in hardness can be attributed to solid solution hardening.