Thermal Stability of Nanocrystalline Copper Alloyed with Antimony
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Nanocrystalline copper (Cu) was generated by cryogenic, high-energy ball milling. Antimony (Sb) was added to investigate its utility in stabilizing the grain structure during annealing up to a maximum temperature of 1073 K (800 °C). When alloyed with Sb in quantities up to 1 at. pct, thermal stability was maintained up to 673 K (400 °C). Cu and Sb have very different molar volumes which can drive segregation of the solute due to the elastic strain energy and hence stabilize the grain size by reducing grain boundary energy. The elastic mismatch of Sb in Cu is calculated to be quite large (113 kJ/mol) when molar volume is used, but when an equivalent equation using atomic radius is applied, the driving force is nearly an order of magnitude lower (~12 kJ/mol). The low elastic mismatch is corroborated by the large equilibrium solubility of Sb in Cu. The results for the Cu-Sb system are compared to the nanocrystalline Ni-W system and the large amount of equilibrium solubility of the solute in both cases is thought to hinder thermal stabilization since segregation is not strongly favored.
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