Thermodynamic instability of a nanocrystalline, single-phase TiZrNbHfTa alloy and its impact on the mechanical properties
Publication type(s)journal article
Year of publication2018
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An equiatomic, single-phase TiZrNbHfTa high-entropy alloy was subjected to high-pressure torsion, leading to a grain size below 100 nm. Introducing a nanocrystalline microstructure to the material should help to accelerate a possible phase decomposition of the material by having a high amount of fast diffusion pathways and possible nucleation sites in the form of grain boundaries. In order to test the materials thermodynamic stability the nanocrystalline high-entropy alloy. was subjected to various heat treatments for temperatures between 300 °C and 1100 °C. Isochronal heat treatments (1 h) resulted in a hardness increase from 420 HV1 for the as-processed state to 530 HV1 for an annealing temperature of 500 °C, while for temperatures of 700 °C and higher a softening compared to the as-processed state occurred. In order to clarify this unexpected annealing response, analysis of selected microstructural states was performed utilizing electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction as well as mechanical testing to gain further information on microstructure-property relationships. Complementary, thermodynamic simulations were performed via the Calphad approach and compared to the experimental results. A phase decomposition of the originally equimolar single-phase high-entropy alloy into a NbTa-rich body-centered cubic phase and ZrHf-rich phases, which occurred in two different crystal structures depending on the annealing temperature, was the main reason for the property changes. The obtained results not only give valuable new insights into the phase stability of the TiZrNbHfTa alloy, but also demonstrate the impact of the newly forming phases in regards to mechanical properties and its implication for a possible practical application of this alloy.