Heterogeneous Nucleation of α-Al Grain on Primary α-AlFeMnSi Intermetallic Investigated Using 3D SEM Ultramicrotomy and HRTEM


Microstructural examination of the Al-5.3Mg-2.4Si-0.6Mn-1.0Fe alloy in the die-cast condition revealed that a significant number of the primary α-AlFeMnSi intermetallic particles were found inside both the coarse α-Al dendrite fragments formed in the shot sleeve and the fine α-Al grains formed in the die cavity. The heterogeneous nucleation of α-Al phase on primary α-AlFeMnSi intermetallic particle was further investigated experimentally. 3-Dimension (3D) scanning electron microscopy ultramicrotomy revealed that the probability of finding at least one primary α-AlFeMnSi intermetallic particle inside each α-Al grain was almost 90 pct. The detailed microstructural analysis identified the primary α-AlFeMnSi intermetallic particle as the α-Al12(Fe,Mn)3Si composition with a body-centered cubic structure and a lattice parameter of a = 1.265 nm. It was found that the primary α-Al12(Fe,Mn)3Si intermetallic particle had a faceted morphology with {110} planes exposed as its natural surfaces. High resolution transmission electron microscopy further confirmed that the crystallographic orientation relationship between α-Al12(Fe,Mn)3Si intermetallic particle and α-Al phase was: [111]α-AlFeMnSi//[110]Al and (1\( \overline{1} \)0)α-AlFeMnSi~6 deg from (1\( \overline{1} \)1)α-Al, and the corresponding interface between two phases could be confirmed as a semi-coherent interface with a lattice misfit of 2.67 pct at 933 K (660 °C), which was considerably smaller than the theoretical limit (5.7 pct) for epitaxial nucleation. Finally, based on these experimental evidences and the epitaxial nucleation model, we concluded that the primary α-Al12(Fe,Mn)3Si intermetallic particles were both potent and effective nucleating substrates for the α-Al phase.

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Financial support from EPSRC through the Grant of “Towards Affordable, Closed-Loop Recyclable Future Low Carbon Vehicle Structures-TARF-LCV” is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Wenchao Yang.

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Manuscript submitted November 25, 2013.

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Yang, W., Ji, S., Zhou, X. et al. Heterogeneous Nucleation of α-Al Grain on Primary α-AlFeMnSi Intermetallic Investigated Using 3D SEM Ultramicrotomy and HRTEM. Metall and Mat Trans A 45, 3971–3980 (2014).

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  • High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy
  • High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy
  • Heterogeneous Nucleation
  • Intermetallic Particle
  • Lattice Misfit