Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Alan M. Russell


Boron-rich borides are a special group of materials possessing complex structures typically comprised of B12 icosahedra. All of the boron-rich borides sharing this common structural unit exhibit a variety of exceptional physical and electrical properties. In this work, a new ternary boride compound AlMgB14, which has been extensively studied in bulk form due to its novel mechanical properties, was fabricated into thin film coatings by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) technology. The effect of processing conditions (laser operating modes, vacuum level, substrate temperature, and postannealing, etc.) on the composition, microstructure evolution, chemical bonding, and surface morphology of AlMgB14 thin film coatings has been investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry; the mechanical, electrical, and optical properties of AlMgB14 thin films have been characterized by nanoindentation, four-point probe, van der Pauw Hall measurement, activation energy measurement, and UV-VIS-NIR spectrophotometer.;Experimental results show that AlMgB14 films deposited in the temperature range of 300 K - 873 K are amorphous. Depositions under a low vacuum level (5 x 10-5 Torr) can introduce a significant amount of C and O impurities into AlMgB14 films and lead to a complex oxide glass structure. Orthorhombic AlMgB14 phase cannot be obtained by subsequent high temperature annealing. By contrast, the orthorhombic AlMgB 14 crystal structure can be attained via high temperature-annealing of AlMgB14 films deposited under a high vacuum level (< 3 x 10-6 Torr), accompanied by strong texture formation. Low vacuum level-as deposited AlMgB14 films have low hardness (10 GPa), but high vacuum level-as deposited AlMgB14 films exhibit an extremely high hardness (45 GPa - 51 GPa), and the higher deposition temperature results in still higher hardness. Furthermore, a very low friction coefficient (0.04 - 0.05) has been observed for high vacuum level-as deposited AlMgB14 films, which could be ascribed to the in situ formation of a surface self-lubricating layer. Unlike most boron-rich boride films, high vacuum level-as deposited AlMgB14 films also possess a low n-type electrical resistivity, which is a consequence of high carrier concentration and moderate carrier mobility. The operative electrical transport mechanism and doping behavior for high vacuum level-as deposited AlMgB14 films are discussed in detail in this thesis.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Yun Tian



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

95 pages