In situ investigation of spinodal decomposition in hypermonotectic Al–Bi and Al–Bi–Zn alloys
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNew Journal of Physics 2008, 10 10.1088/1367-2630/10/5/053001
Spinodal decomposition of hypermonotectic Al–6 wt.%Bi, Al–8 wt.%Bi and Al–6 wt.%Bi–8 wt.%Zn alloys has been investigated using synchrotron radiography. In the case of the 6 and 8 wt.%Bi binary alloys undercoolings of 70 and 110 K, respectively, were required to initiate the L ! L1 + L2 reaction, which appeared to occur very close to the monotectic reaction temperature. The nucleated L2 droplets were set in collective sizedependent motion by forces coupled to external fields (gravity and imposed temperature gradient) as well as forces arising due to internal fluctuations of the system. With experimental conditions similar to those realized during strip casting of the same materials, it was found that the size-dependant droplet velocity field combined with Stokes drag at the L1–L2 interfaces as well as attractive and repulsive diffusion-coupling between adjacent L2 droplets, yield complex meso- to microscale hydrodynamics. The hydrodynamics are the dominating mechanisms for L2 droplet coagulation, and are accordingly decisive for the final size distribution and geometrical dispersion of the soft Bi-rich component in the cast material. A different decomposition mode was observed in the Al–6 wt.%Bi–8 wt.%Zn ternary alloy, with the L2 droplets undergoing an immiscible–miscible–immiscible transition. In contrast to what was found for the binaries, L2 domains formed at relatively small undercoolings, and very little droplet motion was observed, as all L2 domains nucleated and remained on the crucible walls until they encroached on the monotectic front. At small distances from the monotectic front a Zn-rich solute boundary layer preceding the -Al, caused the L2 domains to dissolve as Bi–Zn–Al regains complete miscibility upon reaching a critical Zn-concentration. In the shallow mush region behind the monotectic reaction, a high Zn solid solubility and a relatively fast diffusion of Zn in -Al combine to cause a rapid diminishing Zn concentration in the mush liquid, restoring Bi-immiscibility and consequentially a secondary nucleation of L2 droplets in the mush.