Dendritic Growth Morphologies in Al-Zn Alloys-Part II: Phase-Field Computations
In Part I of this article, the role of the Zn content in the development of solidification microstructures in Al-Zn alloys was investigated experimentally using X-ray tomographic microscopy. The transition region between dendrites found at low Zn content and dendrites found at high Zn content was characterized by textured seaweed-type structures. This Dendrite Orientation Transition (DOT) was explained by the effect of the Zn content on the weak anisotropy of the solid-liquid interfacial energy of Al. In order to further support this interpretation and to elucidate the growth mechanisms of the complex structures that form in the DOT region, a detailed phase-field study exploring anisotropy parameters' space is presented in this paper. For equiaxed growth, our results essentially recapitulate those of Haxhimali et al. in simulations for pure materials. We find distinct regions of the parameter space associated with and dendrites, separated by a region where hyperbranched dendrites are observed. In simulations of directional solidification, we find similar behavior at the extrema, but in this case, the anisotropy parameters corresponding to the hyperbranched region produce textured seaweeds. As noted in the experimental work reported in Part I, these structures are actually dendrites that prefer to grow misaligned with respect to the thermal gradient direction. We also show that in this region, the dendrites grow with a blunted tip that oscillates and splits, resulting in an oriented trunk that continuously emits side branches in other directions. We conclude by making a correlation between the alloy composition and surface energy anisotropy parameters.