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Heterogeneous nucleation of solidification of cadmium particles embedded in an aluminium matrix

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  • Materials Engineering (Formerly Metallurgy)


A hypomonotectic alloy of Al-4.5wt%Cd has been manufactured by melt spinning and the resulting microstructure examined by transmission electron microscopy. As-melt spun hypomonotectic Al-4.5wt%Cd consists of a homogeneous distribution of faceted 5 to 120 nm diameter cadmium particles embedded in a matrix of aluminium, formed during the monotectic solidification reaction. The cadmium particles exhibit an orientation relationship with the aluminium matrix of {111}Al//{0001}Cd and lang110rangAlAl//lang11¯20> Cd, with four cadmium particle variants depending upon which of the four {111}Al planes is parallel to {0001}Cd. The cadmium particles exibit a distorted cuboctahedral shape, bounded by six curved {100}Al//{20¯23}Cd facets, six curved {111}Al/{40¯43}Cd facets and two flat {111}Al//{0001}Cd facets. The as-melt spun cadmium particle shape is metastable and the cadmium particles equilibrate during heat treatment below the cadmium melting point, becoming elongated to increase the surface area and decrease the separation of the {111}Al//{0001}Cd facets. The equilibrium cadmium particle shape and, therefore, the anisotropy of solid aluminium-solid cadmium and solid aluminium -liquid cadmium surface energies have been monitored by in situ heating in the transmission electron microscope over the temperature range between room temperature and 420 °C. The anisotropy of solid aluminium-solid cadmium surface energy is constant between room temperature and the cadmium melting point, with the {100}Al//{20¯23}Cd surface energy on average 40% greater than the {111}Al//{0001}Cd surface energy, and 10% greater than the {111}Al//{40¯43Cd surface energy. When the cadmium particles melt at temperatures above 321 °C, the {100}Al//{20¯23}Cd facets disappear and the {111}Al//{40¯43}Cd and {111}A1//{0001}Cd surface energies become equal. The {111}Al facets do not disappear when the cadmium particles melt, and the anisotropy of solid aluminium-liquid cadmium surface energy decreases gradually with increasing temperature above the cadmium melting point. The kinetics of cadmium solidification have been examined by heating and cooling experiments in a differential scanning calorimeter over a range of heating and cooling rates. Cadmium particle solidification is nucleated catalytically by the surrounding aluminium matrix on the {111}Al faceted surfaces, with an undercooling of 56 K and a contact angle of 42 °. The nucleation kinetics of cadmium particle solidification are in good agreement with the hemispherical cap model of heterogeneous nucleation.

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