, Volume 104, Issue 1, pp 275-287
Date: 25 Nov 2010

Formation mechanism of the primary faceted phase and complex eutectic structure within an undercooled Ag–Cu–Ge alloy

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The solidified microstructure of bulk undercooled Ag40Cu30Ge30 alloy consists of three parts: primary (Ge) phase, the complex structure of (Ag + Ge) and (Ag + ε 2) pseudobinary eutectics, and (Ag + Ge + ε 2) ternary eutectic. In comparison, the pseudobinary eutectic no longer appears in an alloy droplet solidified in a drop tube. Once the undercooling exceeds 225 K and the cooling rate is greater than 2×103 K s−1, the microstructure of the solidified droplet is totally composed of anomalous ternary eutectic. In both cases, the primary (Ge) phase exhibits various faceted growth morphologies at different undercoolings, such as columnar block, long dendrite, equiaxed dendrite and rod-like crystal. Some refined side branches grow from the equiaxed (Ge) dendritic branches composed of {111} twins, which is ascribed to the rapid epitaxial growth of (Ag + Ge) pseudobinary eutectic from the (Ge) dendritic branches. Moreover, both the primary (Ge) phase and the (Ge) phase in the (Ag + Ge) pseudobinary eutectic are effective heterogeneous nuclei for the (Ag+ε 2) pseudobinary eutectic. As undercooling increases, the (Ge) phase in the (Ag + Ge+ε 2) ternary eutectic transforms from faceted to non-faceted phase, while the independent nucleation and growth of the (Ag) and ε 2 phases in the ternary eutectic displaces their previous cooperative growth. These growth kinetics transitions result in the formation of anomalous ternary eutectic.