Determination of the oxide scale growth mechanism using 18O-tracer experiments in combination with Transmission Electron Microscopy and nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Journal article, 2018
Two-stage 18 O 2 / 16 O 2 exposures can be used to investigate the effect that alloying elements, secondary phases, or surface treatments have on the high temperature oxidation behaviour of certain materials. During subsequent exposures to 16 O 2 - and 18 O 2 -rich atmospheres, 16 O- and 18 O-rich layers are formed. Analysis of the layers using Seco ndary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) depth profiling allows for conclusions to be drawn about the oxide scale growth mechanism. The conclusions are, however, not entirely unambiguous due to the limited lateral resolution of the technology. Rough surface topography and the thickness variation of the oxide scale over the analysed volume add to the ambiguity of the findings. In this study, an Fe-20%Cr alloy was exposed to both 18 O- and 16 O-rich environments at 850 °C. Two methods were used to analyse the thermally grown Cr 2 O 3 scale: (1) traditional SIMS depth profiling and (2) preparation of a cross-sectional lamellae for Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), which, subsequently, was analysed in a NanoSIMS. The NanoSIMS 16 O and 18 O elemental maps were then superimposed on the TEM image. In comparison with traditional SIMS depth profiling, the nanoSIMS elemental maps reveal detailed information about local oxide growth in different parts of an oxide scale. Moreover, a clear 16 O/ 18 O interface can be seen in the nanoSIMS maps, which is not the case in the sputter depth profiles. The findings of this study show that the aforementioned issues associated with sputter depth profiling can be eliminated by mapping a cross-section of an oxide scale using high resolution nanoSIMS.