Structural Characterization of Phase Separation in Fe-Cr: A Current Comparison of Experimental Methods
Journal article, 2016

Self-assembly due to phase separation within a miscibility gap is important in numerous material systems and applications. A system of particular interest is the binary alloy system Fe-Cr, since it is both a suitable model material and the base system for the stainless steel alloy category, suffering from low-temperature embrittlement due to phase separation. Structural characterization of the minute nano-scale concentration fluctuations during early phase separation has for a long time been considered a major challenge within material characterization. However, recent developments present new opportunities in this field. Here, we present an overview of the current capabilities and limitations of different techniques. A set of Fe-Cr alloys were investigated using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), atom probe tomography, and analytical transmission electron microscopy. The complementarity of the characterization techniques is clear, and combinatorial studies can provide complete quantitative structure information during phase separation in Fe-Cr alloys. Furthermore, we argue that SANS provides a unique in-situ access to the nanostructure, and that direct comparisons between SANS and phase-field modeling, solving the non-linear Cahn Hilliard equation with proper physical input, should be pursued.

crostructure and processing

atom-probe tomography

duplex stainless-steel

Materials Science


angle neutron-scattering

ferrite decomposition

spinodal decomposition


Metallurgy & Metallurgical Engineering

time evolution


percent chromium


X. Xu

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

J. Odqvist

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Magnus Hörnqvist Colliander

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Microstructure

Mattias Thuvander

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Microstructure

Axel Steuwer

Nelson Mandela University

J. E. Westraadt

Nelson Mandela University

Stephen King

ISIS Facility

P. Hedstrom

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science

1073-5623 (ISSN)

Vol. 47A 12 5942-5952

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Other Physics Topics

Condensed Matter Physics

Areas of Advance

Materials Science



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