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J. Mater. Sci. Technol.  2015, Vol. 31 Issue (9): 923-929    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmst.2014.12.009
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Effect of Milling Time on the Microstructure and Tensile Properties of Ultrafine Grained Ni-SiC Composites at Room Temperature
Hefei Huang1, *, Chao Yang1, Massey de los Reyes2, Yongfeng Zhou1, Long Yan1, Xingtai Zhou1, *
1 Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201800, China; 2 Institute of Materials Engineering, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234, Australia
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Abstract  Bulk metallic nickel-silicon carbide nano-particle (Ni-SiCNP) composites, with milling time ranged from 8 to 48 h, were prepared in a planetary ball mill and sintered using a spark plasma sintering (SPS) furnace. The microstructure of the Ni-SiCNP composites was characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and their mechanical properties were investigated by tensile measurements. The TEM results showed well-dispersed SiCNP particles, either within the matrix, between twins or along grain boundaries (GB), as well as the presence of stacking faults and twin structures, characteristics of materials with low stacking fault energy. Dislocation lines were also observed to interact with the SiCNP which were plastically nondeformable. A synergistic relationship existed between Hall-Petch strengthening and dispersion strengthening mechanisms, which was shown to greatly influence the mechanical properties of the Ni-SiCNP composites. Both the maximum yield and tensile strengths were found in the Ni-SiCNP composite with a milling time of 48 h, whereas the increased rate of strengths drastically decreased in material milled above 8 h due to the significant SiCNP agglomeration. The ball milling process resulted in the formation of nano-scale, ultra-fine grained (UFG) Ni-SiCNP composites when the milling time was extended for longer periods, greatly strengthening these materials. The sharp decrease in elongation percentages, however, should be comprehensively considered before irreversible inelastic deformation.
Key words:  Ni-SiCNP composite      Mechanical alloying      Spark plasma sintering      Transmission electron microscopy      Tensile test      Ultra-fine grained (UFG)     
Received:  03 September 2014     
Fund: This research was supported by the Knowledge Innovation program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant Nos. 2010CB832903 and 2010CB834503) and the China-Australia Joint Research Project (Grant No. 2014DFG60230).
Corresponding Authors:  Corresponding author. Assist. Prof., Ph.D.; Tel.: +86 21 39194775.Corresponding author. Prof., Ph.D.; Tel.: +86 21 39194769. E-mail addresses: (H. Huang), Zhou).     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Hefei Huang, Chao Yang, Massey de los Reyes, Yongfeng Zhou, Long Yan, Xingtai Zhou. Effect of Milling Time on the Microstructure and Tensile Properties of Ultrafine Grained Ni-SiC Composites at Room Temperature. J. Mater. Sci. Technol., 2015, 31(9): 923-929.

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  (a) SEM micrograph of pure nickel, (b) TEM image of SiCNP powder.
  Dimension of the dogbone-style tensile specimens.
  Bright-field TEM images of unreinforced pure nickel (a) and Ni-SiCNP composites with a milling time of 8 h (b), 24 h (c), 36 h (d) and 48 h (e). High number densities of dispersed SiCNP (marked with red arrows) are visible in the Ni-SiCNP composites.
  EBSD images of unreinforced pure nickel (a) and Ni-SiCNP composites with a milling time of 8 h (b), 24 h (c), 36 h (d) and 48 h (e).
  Grain size distribution (a) and average grain diameter (b) of Ni-SiC composites with the extension of milling time from 8 h to 48 h.
  Bright-field TEM images of the Ni-SiCNP composites with a milling time of 24 h (a) and (b) SAED pattern along a [110] zone axis taken from the twin boundary (circled in (a)).
  Bright-field TEM images showing the distribution of SiCNP in matrix, twin boundary sites and on GB. The interaction of dislocation lines with SiCNP in the Ni-SiCNP composites (24 h) was also observed.
  Variation in yield strength (a) and tensile strength (b) of both the unreinforced pure nickel and the Ni-SiCNP composites milled at different time. The uncertainties are given by the standard deviation (2σ
  Variation in elongation percentages of unreinforced pure nickel and Ni-SiCNP composites milled at different time. The uncertainties are given by the standard deviation (2σ
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