Conceiving strong interfaces represents an effective direction in the development of superhard nanocomposite materials for practical applications in protective coatings. In the pursuit of engineering strong nanoscale interfaces between cubic rock-salt (B1) domains, we investigate using density functional theory (DFT) coherent interface models designed based on hexagonal (HX) NiAs and WC structures, as well as experiment. The DFT screening of a collection of transition-metal (M = Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta) carbides and nitrides indicates that the interface models provided by the HX polymorphs store little coherency strain and develop an energetic advantage as the valence-electron concentration increases. Our result suggests that harnessing the polymorphism encountered in transition-metal (M = Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta) carbides and nitrides for interface design represents a promising strategy for advancing superhard nanomaterials. ©
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- coherent interfaces
- density functional theory
- mechanical properties
- superhard materials
- transition-metal carbides and nitrides