Study of the twinned dendrite tip shape II: Experimental assessment
The favorable growth kinetics of twinned dendrites can be explained by their complex morphology, multiple side branching mechanisms, growth undercooling and tip morphology. Three models were proposed for the twinned dendrite tip shape: (i) a grooved tip satisfying the Smith condition at the triple line; (ii) a doublon, i.e. a double-tip dendrite that grows with a narrow and deep liquid channel in its center; and (iii) a pointed (or edgy) tip, with consideration of the solid-liquid interfacial energy anisotropy. In the first part of this work, phase field simulations of half a twinned dendrite with an appropriate boundary condition to reproduce the Smith condition supported the doublon conjecture, with a narrow liquid channel ending its solidification with the formation of small liquid droplets. In this part, experimental observations of twinned dendrite tips reveal the presence of a small, but well-defined, groove, thus definitely eliminating the edged tip hypothesis. Focused ion beam nanotomography and energy-dispersive spectroscopy chemical analysis in a transmission electron microscope reveal the existence of a positive solute gradient in a region localized within 2 μm around the twin plane. In Al-Zn specimens, small particles aligned within the twin plane further support the doublon conjecture and the predicted formation of small liquid droplets below the doublon root. © 2011 Acta Materialia Inc.