Local Degradation Mechanisms by Tarnishing of Protected Silver Mirror Layers Studied by Combined Surface Analysis

Abstract : In this work, we addressed the local degradation mechanisms limiting the pre-launch environmental durability of thin-layered silver stacks for demanding space mirror applications. Local initiation and propagation of tarnishing were studied by combined surface and interface analysis on model stack samples consisting of thin silver layers supported on light-weight SiC substrates and protected by thin SiO2 overcoats, deposited by cathodic magnetron sputtering and submitted to accelerated aging in gaseous H2S. The results show that tarnishing is locally initiated by the formation of Ag2S columns erupting above the stack surface. Ag2S growth is promoted at high aspect ratio defects (surface pores) of the SiC substrate as a result of an imperfect protection by the SiO2 overcoat. Channels most likely connect the silver layer to its environment through the protection layer, which enables local H2S entry and Ag2S growth. The silver sulfide columns grow in number and size eventually leading to coalescence with increasing H2S exposure. In more advanced stages, tarnishing slows down owing to saturation of all pre-existing imperfectly protected sites of preferential sulfidation. However, it progresses radially at the basis of the Ag2S columns underneath the protection layer, consuming the metallic silver layer and deteriorating the protecting overcoat.
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Emna Limam, Vincent Maurice, Antoine Seyeux, Sandrine Zanna, Lorena Klein, et al.. Local Degradation Mechanisms by Tarnishing of Protected Silver Mirror Layers Studied by Combined Surface Analysis. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, American Chemical Society, 2017, 122 (2), pp.578-586. ⟨10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b05015⟩. ⟨hal-02354495⟩

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