J. Mater. Sci. Technol. ›› 2021, Vol. 61: 25-32.DOI: 10.1016/j.jmst.2020.05.046

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The growth mechanisms of θ′ precipitate phase in an Al-Cu alloy during aging treatment

Lin Gao, Kai Li, Song Ni, Yong Du, Min Song*()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Powder Metallurgy, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China
  • Received:2020-03-21 Revised:2020-04-18 Accepted:2020-05-02 Published:2021-01-20 Online:2021-01-20
  • Contact: Min Song


The plate-shaped θ′ (Al2Cu) precipitate acts as one of the primary strengthening phases in Al-Cu alloys. The interface, especially the semicoherent interface, between Al-Cu solid solution (αAl) and θ′ phase contains a lot of clues about phase transformations. Thus, these interfacial structures in an Al-Cu alloy after high-temperature and longtime aging have been analyzed in detail using atomic-scale high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy and first-principles calculations in this work. It was found that the lateral growth of θ' precipitates is subjected to a combination of several major mechanisms under this aging condition. Except for some common intermediate phases, two novel and striking structures were observed on the interface, which implies two alternative atomic diffusion mechanisms for θ′ precipitate growth. For one condition, the atomic diffusion from αAl to θ′ phase transformation adopts an interstitialcy mechanism based on additional Al atoms. For the other condition, the diffusion is carried out through Al atoms. Both mechanisms are distinctly different from the previous theory based on direct diffusion of Cu atoms. The first-principle calculations also confirm that these newfound diffusion processes are energetically favored.

Key words: Al-Cu alloys, Phase transformation, Atomic-scaled imaging, First-principles calculation