Date of Award

12-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Materials Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Peter K. Liaw

Committee Members

C. Sturart Daw, John D. Landes, Philip D. Rack, Theodore M. Besmann

Abstract

This report describes the research effort that was undertaken to develop and understand processing techniques for the deposition of both low and high density SiC coatings from a non-halide precursor, in support of the Generation IV Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor (GFR) fuel development program.

The research was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the feasibility of producing both porous SiC coatings and dense SiC coatings on surrogate fuel particles by fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition (FBCVD) using gas mixtures of methylsilane and argon was demonstrated. In the second phase, a combined experimental and modeling effort was carried out in order to gain an understanding of the deposition mechanisms that result in either porous or dense SiC coatings, depending on the coating conditions. For this second phase effort, a simplified (compared to the fluid bed) single- substrate chemical vapor deposition (CVD) system was employed.

Based on the experimental and modeling results, the deposition of SiC from methylsilane is controlled by the extent of gas-phase reaction, and is therefore highly sensitive to temperature. The results show that all SiC coatings are due to the surface adsorption of species that result from gas-phase reactions. The model terms these gas- borne species embryos, and while the model does not include a prediction of coating morphology, a comparison of the model and experimental results indicates that the morphology of the coatings is controlled by the nucleation and growth of the embryos. The coating that results from small embryos (embryos with only two Si-C pairs) appears relatively dense and continuous, while the coating that results from larger embryos becomes less continuous and more nodular as embryo size increases. At some point in the growth of embryos they cease to behave as molecular species and instead behave as particles that grow by either agglomeration or by incorporation of molecular species on their surface. As these particles adhere to the substrate surface and become fixed in place by surface deposition in the interstices between adjacent particles, a low density coating consisting of these particles results.

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