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Contact Damage and Strength Degradation in Brittle/Quasi-Plastic Silicon Nitride Bilayers



K S. Lee, S K. Lee, Brian R. Lawn, D H. Kim


A study is made of the damage resistance of silicon nitride bilayer consisting of a hard overlayer [coating] on a soft underlayer [substrate]. The two layers are fabricated with different starting powders, to provide distinctive elongate-grain Microstructures, and are co-sintered to provide strong interfacial bonding and thus to minimize subsequent delamination. Contact testing with spherical indenters is used to characterize the damage response. The elastic-plastic mismatch between the layers is sufficiently high as to produce distinctive damage modes in the two layers: predominantly cone cracking in the coating, and quasi-plasticity in the substrate. However, the mismatch is also sufficiently low as to preclude secondary transverse cracks of the kind observed in other bilayer systems to initiate immediately beneath the contact at the coating/substrate interface and propagate upward within the coating. The dominant damage mode shifts from coating fracture to substrate quasi-plasticity with increasing contact load and decreasing coating thickness. Significantly, the presence of the soft underlayer inhibits growth of the coating cone cracks as the latter approach and intersect the interface. The underlayer also substantially diminishes strength losses from the contact-induced damage, especially in bilayers with thinner coatings. The implication is that bilayer structures with thin, hard coatings can preserve benefits from the inherent toughness of soft substrate materials, and at the same time afford surface protection [high wear resistance] to the underlayer.
Journal of the American Ceramic Society
No. 9


coatings, contact damage, fracture, Hertzian test, quasi-plasticity


Lee, K. , Lee, S. , Lawn, B. and Kim, D. (1998), Contact Damage and Strength Degradation in Brittle/Quasi-Plastic Silicon Nitride Bilayers, Journal of the American Ceramic Society (Accessed July 12, 2024)


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Created August 31, 1998, Updated October 12, 2021