The microstructure and mechanical properties of the ultra-fine grained (UFG) Al6063 alloy reinforced with nanometric aluminum oxide nanoparticles (25 nm) were investigated and compared with the coarse-grained (CG) Al6063 alloy (~2 μm). The UFG materials were prepared by mechanical alloying (MA) under high-purity Ar and Ar-5 vol pct O2 atmospheres followed by hot powder extrusion (HPE). The CG alloy was produced by HPE of the gas-atomized Al6063 powder without applying MA. Electron backscatter diffraction under scanning electron microscopy together with transmission electron microscopy studies revealed that the microstructure of the milled powders after HPE consisted of ultra-fine grains (>100 nm) surrounded by nanostructured grains (<100 nm), revealing the formation of a bimodal grain structure. The grain size distribution was in the range of 20 to 850 nm with an average of 360 and 300 nm for Ar and Ar-5 pct O2 atmospheres, respectively. The amount of oxide particles formed by reactive mechanical alloying under the Ar/O2 atmosphere was ~0.8 vol pct, whereas the particles were almost uniformly distributed throughout the aluminum matrix. The UFG materials exhibited significant improvement in the hardness and yield strength with an absence of strain hardening behavior compared with CG material. The fracture surfaces showed a ductile fracture mode for both CG and UFG Al6063, in which the dimple size was related to the grain structure. A mixture of ductile–brittle fracture mode was observed for the UFG alloy containing 0.8 vol pct Al2O3 particles. The tensile behavior was described based on the formation of nonequilibrium grain boundaries with high internal stress and dislocation-based models.
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Manuscript submitted March 6, 2010.
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Asgharzadeh, H., Simchi, A. & Kim, H.S. Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Oxide-Dispersion Strengthened Al6063 Alloy with Ultra-Fine Grain Structure. Metall Mater Trans A 42, 816–824 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-010-0510-1