Grain boundary energy effect on grain boundary segregation in an equiatomic high-entropy alloy

Li, L. and Kamachali, R.D. and Li, Z. and Zhang, Z.

Volume: 4 Pages:
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.4.053603
Published: 2020

Grain boundary (GB) segregation has a substantial effect on the microstructure evolution and properties of polycrystalline alloys. The mechanism of nanoscale segregation at the various GBs in multicomponent alloys is of great challenge to reveal and remains elusive so far. To address this issue, we studied the GB segregation in a representative equiatomic FeMnNiCoCr high-entropy alloy (HEA) aged at 450 °C. By combining transmission Kikuchi diffraction, atom probe tomography analysis and a density-based thermodynamics modeling, we uncover the nanoscale segregation behavior at a series of well-characterized GBs of different characters. No segregation occurs at coherent twin boundaries; only slight nanoscale segregation of Ni takes place at the low-angle GBs and vicinal ς29b coincidence site lattice GBs. Ni and Mn show cosegregation of high levels at the general high-angle GBs with a strong depletion in Fe, Cr, and Co. Our density-based thermodynamic model reveals that the highly negative energy of mixing Ni and Mn is the main driving force for nanoscale cosegregation to the GBs. This is further assisted by the opposite segregation of Ni and Cr atoms with a positive enthalpy of mixing. It is also found that GBs of higher interfacial energy, possessing lower atomic densities (higher disorder and free volume), show higher segregation levels. By clarifying the origins of GB segregations in the FeMnNiCoCr HEA, the current work provides fundamental ideas on nanoscale segregation at crystal defects in multicomponent alloys. © 2020 authors.

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