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Cluster hardening in Al-Cu-Mg alloys: analysis of Cu-Mg atomic clustering

Version 2 2024-06-03, 21:04
Version 1 2017-07-07, 15:15
conference contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 21:04 authored by Ross MarceauRoss Marceau, G Sha, SP Ringer
The usual inference of the term age hardening is that alloy strengthening occurs through precipitation hardening. However, the proposal that certain Al-Cu-Mg and Al-Zn-Mg-Cu alloys may be strengthened through the formation of a very fine dispersion of pre-precipitate solute clusters has received significant attention and interest in recent years, including significant discussion at the last several International Conferences on Aluminum Alloys [1-6]. These studies follow the original observations of rapid hardening in these systems [7]. The proposition of cluster hardening is attractive because of the fine length scales over which the strengthening mechanisms might operate, so providing flexible utilization of alloy solute and considerable scope for design of this nanoscale microstructure or nanostructure. Factors such as the cluster chemistry and the dispersive properties of clusters could be tailored for specific property targets. These clusters may also be used to effect particular transformation pathways, leading to particular precipitate nucleation reactions that could not otherwise occur [4,8]. Because these solute clusters are very small in size, perhaps involving only a few solute atoms, and because the clustered atoms occupy substitutional positions on the parent Al matrix, the challenges for detailed quantitative characterization of solute atom clustering are formidable. Yet such experiments are crucial to advance our understanding of the phenomena occurring during the early stages of ageing in Al alloys. In fact, such path-finding experiments are essential in order to establish a phenomenological framework for subsequent modeling and computational analyses that can ultimately enable the phenomena to be used in alloy design. Atom probe tomography (APT) is a powerful technique with sufficiently high spatial resolution in three dimensions to be able to resolve the position and chemical identity of individual atoms [9]. Even with this resolving power, the systematic identification and analysis of atomic clusters must consider microscope aberrations, detector shortcomings and, given the large size of the data files now routinely acquired, must rely on rigorous data mining computations. This paper summarizes recent experimental studies on the nature of atomic clustering in Al1.1Cu-xMg (at. %) alloys that lie in the α+S phase field and which exhibit a remarkable rapid hardening effect during the early stages of ageing and prior to precipitation when x ≥ 0.5 at. % [10]. Our transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and APT studies reveal the decomposition processes within the solid solution and provide insights into the mechanisms of this novel and most significant strengthening effect.





Aachen, Germany

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Publication classification

EN.1 Other conference paper

Copyright notice

2008, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA


Hirsch J, Strotzki B, Gottstein G

Title of proceedings

ICAA11 : Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Aluminium Alloys 2008


Aluminium Alloys. Conference (11th : 2008 : Aachen, Germany)



Place of publication

Weinheim, Germany


Aluminium Alloys Conference

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