Microstructure-mechanical and chemical behavior relationships in passive thin films

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The passive films play an important role in corrosion and stress corrosion cracking of austenitic stainless steels. The current research investigates the relationship between alloy chemistry, microstructure, and mechanical behavior of passive films formed on 316, 304, and 904L stainless steels (SS). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy were used to investigate the effect of alloy chemistry and microstructure constituents on the thin film fracture properties determined by nanoindentation tests. The analyses showed that fracture loads are directly related to the crystallography of the thin films. It was found that decreasing the ratio of iron to other metallic elements in the film led to an increase in the load required to fracture the film. It was also found that films grown on 304, 316, and 904L stainless steels were the cubic polymorph of Cr2O3, rather than the lower energy rhombohedral form. In the case of 904L SS the film formed as an epitaxial layer. In the other two cases it consisted of small crystalline islands in an amorphous matrix. A dichromate treatment of 316 SS decreased the iron content in the oxide film and increased the hardness. It also resulted in an epitaxial film. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Thin Solid Films