Phase-field modeling of the dendrite orientation transition in Al-Zn alloys
With a few exceptions, phase-field simulations of dendritic growth in cubic materials have been modeled using simple expressions for the interfacial energy anisotropy and with strong anisotropy. However, recent experimental results show that the Dendrite Orientation Transition (DOT) observed in Al-Zn alloys by Gonzales and Rappaz [Met. Mat. Trans. A37 (2006) 2797] occurs at weak anisotropy, and modeling these results requires at least two anisotropy parameters. In the present work, we solve the corresponding phase-field model on an adaptive grid, after measuring and compensating for the grid anisotropy. A systematic scan of equiaxed growth simulations was performed in the range of the anisotropy parameter space where the transition is expected. We find separate domains of existence of < 100 > and < 110 > dendrites, similar to those previously reported by Haxhimali et al. [Nat. Mat. 5 (2006) 660] for pure materials. In the so-called hyperbranched regime, lying between the < 100 > and < 110 > regions, we observe a competition between < 100 > and < 110 > growth directions, but no seaweed structures. Directional solidification simulations showed the stabilizing effect of the thermal gradient on the twofold splitting of < 110 > dendrites, and the importance of the choice of anisotropy parameters. We also found a strong dependence between the orientation of the crystal axes with respect to the thermal gradient and the actual growth direction. Finally, 3-dimensional seaweed microstructures were modeled for the first time, demonstrating that this pattern is a result of not only the values of anisotropy parameters, but also a consequence of directional solidification.