Magnetic monitoring approach to kinetics of phase transformations in multicomponent alloy systems

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2012
Duman, Nagehan
It is of great importance for a materials scientist both from fundamental and applicability aspects to have better understanding of solid-state phase transformations and its kinetics responsible for micro-/nano-structure development in alloys and corresponding physical and mechanical properties. Transformation kinetics can be analyzed by various experimental techniques such as thermal analysis, laborious electron microscopy combined with extensive image analysis or by measuring changes in electrical resistivity, specimen volume and relative intensities of diffraction lines caused by the phase transformation. Beyond these conventional techniques, this dissertation provides a novel magnetic monitoring approach to study the isothermal kinetics of phase transformations in multicomponent alloy systems involving measurable changes in overall magnetic moment as the transformation proceeds. This dissertation focuses on understanding the microstructural evolution, macro- and micro-alloying behavior, magnetic properties, thermal characteristics, mechanical properties and kinetics of solid-state transformations, i.e. nanoscale precipitation and nanocrystallization, in nickel aluminides and Fe-based bulk amorphous alloys. Microstructural characterization of alloys was done by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microcopy techniques. Magnetic properties were analyzed by vibrating sample magnetometry whereas thermal characteristics were evaluated by differential scanning calorimetry. Mechanical properties of alloys were determined by microhardness measurements and compression tests. The influence of Fe macroalloying and 3d transition metal microalloying on the microstructure and properties of Ni-Al-Fe alloys were studied for as-cast and annealed states and it is shown that desired microstructure and related properties can be obtained by proper selection of the type and concentration of macro- or micro-alloying elements together with an appropriate annealing procedure. Thermomagnetic characterization reveals the nanoscale precipitation of a ferromagnetic second phase with annealing. In conjunction with saturation magnetization dependence on annealing, an optimum temperature is identified where nanoscale precipitates impart the highest extent of precipitation strengthening. The isothermal kinetics of ferromagnetic second phase precipitation reveals invariant Avrami exponents close to unity, indicating that nanoscale precipitation is governed by a diffusion-controlled growth process with decreasing growth rate, which closely resembles continuous precipitation kinetics. Appropriate annealing of the Fe-based bulk amorphous alloy precursor produced by suction casting demonstrated extremely fine microstructures containing uniformly distributed and densely dispersed nanocrystals inside a residual amorphous matrix. In order to have better understanding of nanocrystallization mechanisms, kinetic parameters were determined via isothermal magnetic monitoring and non-isothermal differential scanning calorimetry where excellent agreement was obtained in Avrami exponent and activation energy. Analyzing the local kinetics, the nanocrystalline phase was found to evolve through distinct transformation regimes during annealing which were discussed on the basis of transformation kinetics theory and microscopical investigations on each characteristic transformation regime.