Microstructure Formation and Micropillar Compression of Al-TiC Nanocomposite Manufactured by Solidification Nanoprocessing


The microstructure and mechanical responses of a pseudo-dispersed Al-TiC nanocomposite were thoroughly studied using micropillar compression and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). The microstructure of the Al-7 vol pct TiC nanocomposite comprised the α-Al matrix, DO22-Al3Ti platelet and Al4C3, along with TiC domains in which ~ 30 vol pct TiC nanoparticles were loaded without sintering contact. The pseudo-dispersion of TiC nanoparticles was rationalized by the relationship between Van der Waals attraction, Brownian motion, and energy barrier. The microscale tetragonal DO22-Al3Ti compound exhibited excellent yield strength (YS) (1400 to 1667 MPa) and microplasticity (10.8 pct). Intermittent discrete strain bursts and size effects were observed in the single-crystalline Al/Al3Ti pillars. The remarkable YS (720 MPa) of the 3 μm Al-30 vol pct TiC composite pillars was attributed to Orowan strengthening and load transfer. The crystallographic orientation relationship at the Al/TiC interface was identified to be \( \left[ { 1 1 0} \right] (\bar{1}\bar{1}1 )_{\text{Al}} \parallel [ 1 1 0 ] (\bar{1}\bar{1}1 )_{\text{TiC}} \), while the solid bonding guaranteed the effective load transfer and prevented the dislocation avalanche. Nano-twins and edge dislocations were observed in the HRTEM images of TiC NPs and [Al + TiC] mixture, which suggested that the major deformation mechanisms of the Al-30 vol pct TiC composite pillars were dislocation ‘pile-up’ and twins.

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The authors thank Noah Bodzin at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The assistance with pillar fabrication, FIBs operation and TEM sample preparation, as well as professional guidance for the in situ microcompression are greatly appreciated. We also acknowledge the Molecular & Nano Archaeology (MNA) Laboratory and Nano-electronics Research Facility, UCLA, who provide the SEM/FIBs facilities.

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Correspondence to Zuqi Hu.

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Manuscript submitted December 22, 2018.

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Hu, Z., Cao, C., Pozuelo, M. et al. Microstructure Formation and Micropillar Compression of Al-TiC Nanocomposite Manufactured by Solidification Nanoprocessing. Metall Mater Trans A 50, 4620–4631 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-019-05389-5

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