Journal article

Dendritic Growth Morphologies in Al-Zn Alloys-Part I: X-ray Tomographic Microscopy

Upon solidification, most metallic alloys form dendritic structures that grow along directions corresponding to low index crystal axes, e.g., directions in fcc aluminum. However, recent findings[1,2] have shown that an increase in the zinc content in Al-Zn alloys continuously changes the dendrite growth direction from to in {100} planes. At intermediate compositions, between 25 wt pct and 55 wt pct Zn, dendrites and textured seaweeds were reported. The reason for this dendrite orientation transition is that this system exhibits a large solubility of zinc, a hexagonal metal, in the primary fcc aluminum phase, thus modifying its weak solid-liquid interfacial energy anisotropy. Owing to the complexity of the phenomenology, there is still no satisfactory theory that predicts all the observed microstructures. The current study is thus aimed at better understanding the formation of these structures. This is provided by the access to their 3D morphologies via synchrotron-based X-ray tomographic microscopy of quenched Bridgman solidified specimens in combination with the determination of the crystal orientation of the dendrites by electron-backscattered diffraction. Most interestingly, all alloys with intermediate compositions were shown to grow as seaweeds, constrained to grow mostly in a (001) symmetry plane, by an alternating growth direction mechanism. Thus, these structures are far from random and are considered less hierarchically ordered than common dendrites.

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