The influence of the phosphorous content and heat treatment on the nano-micro-structure, thickness and micro-hardness of electroless Ni-P coatings on steel

M. Czagány, P. Baumli, G. Kaptay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Electroless Ni-P coatings were obtained on steel substrates using different bath compositions, which lead to different phosphorous contents of the coatings. In this paper the effect of the P-content in the Ni-P coatings was experimentally studied on the thickness of the coating, on its nano-micro-structure and on its micro-hardness. The as-received samples were nano-crystalline (mostly amorphous according to XRD) and their micro-hardness was found to decrease with increasing the P-content. Upon annealing at 400 °C a new Ni3P phase was formed and the nano-cystalline Ni-rich grains coarsened to micro-grains. In this annealed state the micro-hardness was found to increase with increasing the P-content. A complex model was built to explain the experimental results. It was supposed that the as-received Ni-P coating contains almost pure Ni nano-grains surrounded by segregated P atoms; as the grain grows, its surface is covered more and more by the P atoms. When the grain is fully covered by the P atoms, further grain growth is inhibited and the coating can grow further only due to nucleation of a new grain. Thus, the size of the grains was found inversely proportional to the P-content of the Ni-P alloy. The need for a larger number of nucleation events with decreasing grain size explains why the coating has a smaller thickness for smaller grain size, i.e. higher P-content. The inverse Hall-Petch rule was found for the grain size dependence of micro-hardness of the as deposited samples due to the grain boundary sliding of relatively hard Ni-rich nano-crystals along the soft P atoms (higher P-content lead to lower micro-hardness through smaller grain size). After annealing the micro-hardness was found to increase with the volumetric phase fraction of the harder Ni3P phase within a relatively soft Ni matrix, i.e. it was found to increase with the P-content of the Ni-P coating. The extrapolated value for the micro-hardness of the Ni3P phase is found about 757 ± 20 HV0.01.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-169
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Surface Science
Volume423
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 30 2017

Keywords

  • Annealing
  • Inverse Hall-Petch rule
  • Micro-hardness
  • Nano-structure
  • Ni-P coating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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