Early stages of diamond-film formation on cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide

Riccardo Polini, François Le Normand, Giancarlo Marcheselli, Enrico Traversa

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20 Scopus citations


The surface composition of cemented tungsten carbide (WC-5.8 wt% Co) was studied by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), during the early stages of diamond-film deposition, by hot-filament chemical vapor deposition (HFCVD). The nucleated diamond films were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and automatic image analysis (AIA). The evolution of the surface composition of cemented tungsten carbide during the early stages of diamond-film deposition was strongly dependent on the substrate temperature. At relatively low temperature (750°C), cobalt-rich particles started to segregate at the substrate surface after a few minutes of diamond deposition. The conspicuous segregation of the binder partly inhibited the formation of stable diamond nuclei, through intense carbon dissolution or carbon segregation at the binder surface, but did not affect nucleic growth. At higher temperatures (940°C), no cobalt-rich particles formed at the substrate surface, even after 2 h of deposition. However, XPS results demonstrated the presence of cobalt in a surface layer, although in a lower amount than at 750°C. Nevertheless, the nucleation density of diamond at 940°C was much lower than at 750°C. Gaps between WC grains formed within 10 mins. Therefore, intergranular cobalt was removed at 940°C, a finding attributed to the etching performed by monohydrogen, rather than to binder evaporation. The time evolution of the substrate area fraction covered by diamond islands, S(t), was well described by Avrami kinetics for two-dimensional phase transformations, suggesting that diamond formation took place via a heterogeneous nucleation process. The S(t) functions exhibited a similar trend at 750° and 940°C, because the higher growth rate of diamond crystallites at higher temperature counteracted the slower nucleation rate at the higher temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1429-1435
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


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