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Cracks, with no other damage, were observed in a niobium alloy (Nb-106) part when it was pulled from several months of protective storage for assembly into a rocket nozzle. SEM views showed the cracks to be intergranular, with contaminant particles on a large number of the grain facets. EDX analysis showed they consisted of niobium and fluorine. Plastic replicas, prepared by standard TEM techniques, were analyzed with selected-area electron diffraction, showing a pattern match for niobium tetrafluoride. Auger analyses showed electron spectra containing peaks representing carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, fluorine, and chlorine. Investigation into the processing history of the part...

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