Effect of microstructure on thermal expansion behaviour of nanocrystalline metallic materials
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Materials properties, among which thermodynamic ones, are influenced by microstructural features. This is so also in the case of nanocrystalline materials, featuring average grain size below 100 nm. A reduced grain size involves that significant fractions of atoms are localised in grain boundary regions and this has remarkable effects on the resulting thermodynamic properties, like heat capacity, transition temperatures, coefficient of thermal expansion, etc. In the present work we consider the thermal expansion behaviour of ball-milled nanocrystalline metallic powders using dilatometric measurements. High-energy ball-milling, that is capable to achieve extremely high deformation degrees, induces in the milled powders microstructural defects, like vacancies, antisites, dislocations and planar faults. Another effect of milling is the reduction of the crystallite size, that, in the long run, may reach the nanometric range. In view of the microstructural changes that can be brought about by milling and of the numerous transformations occurring during the dilatometric runs, a comparative study has been conducted on intermetallic, NiAl and Ni3Al, and on a pure metal, nickel, powders. The results emerging from the experimental investigation are quite complex, owing to the complex defect structures that are present in the ball-milled powders. It turns out that the thermal expansion coefficient of the nanocrystalline powders increases as the average grain size is reduced. However, when the average grain size achieves very low values, the strain relaxation of the crystalline lattice and the rearrangement of grain boundary regions result in a reduction of the thermal expansion coefficient. Another aspect that emerges from the dilatometric curves is the interplay between recrystallization and reordering, i.e. the re-establishment of the long-range order in the intermetallic powders, that had been partially or fully eliminated by ball-milling.
KeywordsNiAl Ni3Al Nickel Powder Thermal Expansion Behaviour Dilatometric Curve
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