All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Shane A Catledge

Advisory Committee Members

David J Hilton

Gregg M Janowski

Uday Vaidya

Yogesh K Vohra

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


This work is a compilation of theory, finite element modeling and experimental research related to the use of microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (MPECVD) of diborane to create metal-boride surface coatings on CoCrMo and WC-Co, including the subsequent growth of nanostructured diamond (NSD). Motivation for this research stems from the need for wear resistant coatings on industrial materials, which require improved wear resistance and product lifetime to remain competitive and satisfy growing demand. Nanostructured diamond coatings are a promising solution to material wear but cannot be directly applied to cobalt containing substrates due to graphite nucleation. Unfortunately, conventional pre-treatment methods, such as acid etching, render the substrate too brittle. Thus, the use of boron in a MPECVD process is explored to create robust interlayers which inhibit carbon-cobalt interaction. Furthermore, modeling of the MPECVD process, through the COMSOL Multiphysics® platform, is performed to provide insight into plasma-surface interactions using the simulation of a real-world apparatus. Experimental investigation of MPECVD boriding and NSD deposition was conducted at surface temperatures from 700 to 1100 °C. Several well-adhered metal-boride surface layers were formed: consisting of CoB, CrB, WCoB, CoB and/or W2CoB2. Many of the interlayers were shown to be effective diffusion barriers against elemental cobalt for improving nucleation and adhesion of NSD coatings; diamond on W2CoB2 was well adhered. However, predominantly WCoB and CoB phase interlayers suffered from diamond film delamination. Metal-boride and NSD surfaces were evaluated using glancing-angle x-ray diffraction (XRD), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), cross-sectional scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), micro-Raman spectroscopy, nanoindentation, scratch testing and epoxy pull testing. COMSOL Multiphysics® was used to construct a representation of the MPECVD chamber. Relevant material properties, boundary conditions and adjustable parameters were applied to match the actual experimental set-up. Despite approximations, simulations for the surface temperature and surface accumulation matched well with experimental data. The combination of data from CoCrMo, WC-Co and modeling of the MPECVD process confirms that the use of boron to create metal-boride interlayers is applicable for subsequent nanostructured diamond coatings and that the surface temperature and deposition thickness can be predicted using finite element modeling.