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Title: High-resolution microstructural and microanalysis studies to better understand the thermodynamics and diffusion kinetics in an advanced Ni-based superalloy RR1000
Author: Chen, Yiqiang
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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The commercial polycrystalline superalloy RR1000 developed for turbine disc applications contains a large number of alloying elements. This complex alloy chemistry is required in order to produce appropriate microstructures and the required mechanical properties, such that the most important strengthener γʹ displays complex alloy chemistry. The broad aim of this project is to develop an approach to measuring the composition of γʹ precipitates at a broad range of length scales from nanometres to hundreds of nanometres, and subsequently develop a better understanding of the role of thermodynamics and diffusion kinetics on γʹ phase separation and precipitate growth. A solution of the absorption-corrected EDX spectroscopy to spherical particles was developed in our work, therefore enabling the quantitative analysis of precipitates' composition using an absorption-corrected Cliff-Lorimer approach. By performing this quantification, size-dependent precipitate compositional variations were obtained. Examination of this quantitative approach was compared to thermodynamic calculations of primary γ' precipitates possessing equilibrium compositions. Given the development of semi-quantitative compositional measurements for spherical γʹ precipitates and that cooling is one of the most common and critical regimes in physical metallurgy of Ni-based superalloys, this approach was then applied to study the local compositional variations that are induced in γ' precipitates when the alloy RR1000 undergoes different cooling rates. These measured compositions have been compared to detailed thermodynamic calculations and provide new experimental evidence of the importance of the dominant role of aluminium antisite diffusion in determining the low-temperature growth kinetics of fine-scale γ' precipitates. We have applied a similar analysis approach to study the compositional variations of γʹ cores within the class of secondary precipitates upon cyclic coarsening and reversal coarsening. It was shown that supersaturated Co in secondary γʹ exhibits an overall trend towards the equilibrium but Co content can significantly increase as γʹ coarsens. It was demonstrated that the limited elemental diffusivity in γ and γʹ compared to the observed coarsening rate in the coarsening regime results in the long-lasting Co supersaturation in γʹ and builds up elemental enhancements or depletions. These inhomogeneous elemental distributions produce compressive elastic constraints on large-scale secondary γʹ, therefore inducing morphological instability of these γʹ and causing the reversal coarsening. These results enable us to better understand the role that both thermodynamics and limited diffusion kinetics plays in controlling the complex microstructures of γ' precipitates.
Supervisor: Haigh, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nickel superalloy ; Compositional variation ; Quantitative composition analysis ; Coarsening ; Cooling ; Phase separation ; Gamma prime precipitate ; Diffusion kinetics ; Thermodynamics ; High-resolution microstructural and microanalysis ; Energy dispersive X-ray ; Absorption correction