Date of this Version
Scientific Reports | (2019) 9:4759
This study investigates the microstructural evolution and mechanical response of sputter-deposited amorphous silicon oxycarbide (SiOC)/crystalline Fe nanolaminates, a single layer SiOC film, and a single layer Fe film subjected to ion implantation at room temperature to obtain a maximum He concentration of 5 at. %. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy indicated no evidence of implantation-induced phase transformation or layer breakdown in the nanolaminates. Implantation resulted in the formation of He bubbles and an increase in the average size of the Fe grains in the individual Fe layers of the nanolaminates and the single layer Fe film, but the bubble density and grain size were found to be smaller in the former. By reducing the thicknesses of individual layers in the nanolaminates, bubble density and grain size were further decreased. No He bubbles were observed in the SiOC layers of the nanolaminates and the single layer SiOC film. Nanoindentation and scanning probe microscopy revealed an increase in the hardness of both single layer SiOC and Fe films after implantation. For the nanolaminates, changes in hardness were found to depend on the thicknesses of the individual layers, where reducing the layer thickness to 14 nm resulted in mitigation of implantation-induced hardening.