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Quantitative Evaluation of Spinodal Decomposition in Thermally Aged Binary Fe-35 At.% Cr Alloys by Correlative APT and SANS Analyses

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Document pages: 52 pages

Abstract: In this work, spinodal decomposition (SD) in Fe-35 at. Cr alloy is quantified by correlatively combining two complimentary techniques namely, Atom Probe Tomography (APT) and Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS). In order to overcome the uncertainty often encountered in quantification of the characteristic SD parameters (wavelength λSD , amplitude A and volume fraction of Cr-rich α -phase Φ), we adopt the following: (i) utilize the unique specific attribute of a technique suitable for evaluating any particular SD parameter; (ii) incorporate such reliably extracted parameter as input for evaluating other parameters wherever applicable. This novel correlative approach builds on each other’s strength and provides improved accuracy. λSD is determined independently from APT and SANS analyses. For evaluation of A and Φ, APT analysis utilizes the value of λSD determined from SANS, whereas the phase compositions evaluated by APT are utilized in SANS analysis. With progressive phase separation, α α compositional difference increases continually (from 19.8 after 10 h to 48.2 after 500 h) along with concomitant contraction of the interface (from 1.92 nm to 1.55 nm), underscoring the distinctive characteristics of SD process. Signature of rarely observed early stage of phase separation in the form of a dense population (9.78x1024 m3 ) of extremely small (0.67 nm radius) Cr-rich nanoclusters is registered after aging only for 1 h. In addition, temporal evolution of λSD clearly distinguishes early stage of SD (time exponent of 0.15) from the coarsening stage (time exponent of 0.29, 120 h onwards).

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