Effect of processing temperature on the microstructural characteristics of Cu-Ag nanocomposites: From supersaturation to complete phase decomposition


Initially micrometer-sized powder blends of different compositions (Cu-6at%Ag, Cu-37 at%Ag and Cu-84 at%Ag corresponding to Cu-9vol%Ag, Cu-46 vol%Ag and Cu-89 vol%Ag) were deformed by high-pressure torsion for varying applied strain and temperature in order to study their effect on the degree of supersaturation and the prevailing deformation mechanisms. The resulting microstructures were comprehensively characterized with synchrotron X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. A gradual transition from complete supersaturation to complete phase separation was observed with increasing processing temperature. The critical temperature for full supersaturation strongly depended on the composition. In composites with low Ag and Cu contents single-phase alloys could be obtained up to processing temperatures of 100 °C. In the medium composition range strain localization in shear bands prevented full supersaturation for room temperature deformation. Only in regions deformed by shear bands a complete single-phase supersaturated solid solution was obtained, while the lamellar matrix retained a dual-phase structure. By lowering the processing temperature, using liquid nitrogen as coolant, a homogenous single-phase alloy could be also attained at medium compositions. The present results unravel a clear correlation between dominating deformation mechanisms and the degree of deformation-induced supersaturation.
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