Alloy Design for High-Entropy Alloys: Predicting Solid Solubility, and Balancing Mechanical Properties and Oxidation Resistance
High-entropy alloys (HEAs) comprise of multi-principal elements in equi-atomic or near equi-atomic percentage. HEAs are considered as potential structural materials for high temperature applications, which require alloy design for optimum mechanical properties. In this regard, achieving both high strength and tensile ductility is still a great challenge. Compared to conventional alloys, HEAs have high configurational entropy, which tends to stabilize the solid solution formation, mainly face-centered-cubic (fcc) and/or body-centered-cubic (bcc) solid solutions. Generally, fcc-type HEAs are ductile but soft, while bcc-type HEAs are hard but brittle.
This project has three working directions. The first part of this work is related to alloy design and aims to gain improved understanding of the solid solubility in HEAs. The difficulties that are encountered by HEAs are mostly related to the alloy design strategy. Previous approaches to describe the solid solubilities in HEAs could not accurately locate the solubility limit. Therefore, the need for single-phase solid solution and controlling the formation of secondary phases is addressed through the molecular orbital approach. The output of this approach is the introduction of the Md parameter, the d-orbital energy level to HEAs, which can well describe the solubility limit in HEAs. To further develop this approach, Md is also complemented with theoretical methods specifically, CALPHAD and experimental work.
The second part of this work is to ductilize HEAs containing group IV (Ti, Zr, Hf), V (V, Nb, Ta) and VI (Cr, Mo, W) refractory elements, known as refractory HEAs (RHEAs), where inadequate ductility puts a limit on their mechanical performance for structural applications. A strategy is proposed to design RHEAs with sufficient yield strength combined with ductility at room temperature. Ductility is introduced by maintaining the bcc single-phase solid solution and keeping the number of total valence electrons low, which can be achieved through controlled alloying. More importantly, a mechanism and route for ductilizing RHEAs is proposed.
The third part, which is the ultimate goal of this work, is to address the balance of mechanical properties and oxidation resistance for RHEAs, for the optimal development of RHEAs aiming at high-temperature applications. Based on the known facts for refractory alloys, the oxidation resistance is also problematic for RHEAs and there exists only limited work towards the study of high temperature oxidation of ductile RHEAs. Therefore, the oxidation mechanism is studied and it is found out that the insufficient oxidation resistance in existing ductile RHEAs is attributed to the failure in forming protective oxide scales accompanied by the accelerated internal oxidation leading to pest-disintegration or pesting. Efforts are also carried out to improve oxidation resistance via alloying and pack-cementation aluminizing. These studies provide important input to the further development of RHEAs as novel high-temperature materials and shed light on the design of refractory HEAs with optimal mechanical and oxidation resistance properties.
Virtual Development Laboratory, Chalmers Tvärgata 4C, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden
Opponent: Professor Pasi Peura, Metals Technology, Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland.