Load transfer and damage evolution in multiphase Al alloy matrix composites under uniaxial compressionTuesday (05.11.2019) 16:55 - 17:15 Part of:
Aluminum alloys are extensively used in the automotive industry. Particularly, squeeze casting production of Al-Si alloys is employed in the conception of metal matrix composites (MMC) for combustion engines. Such materials are of a high interest since they allow combining improved mechanical properties and reduced weight and hence improve efficiency. We investigate two types of MMCs, which can be potentially used for production of combustion engine pistons: 1) a near-eutectic cast AlSi12CuMgNi alloy reinforced with 15%vol. Al2O3 random planar oriented short fibers and 2) the same alloy reinforced with 7%vol. Al2O3 random planar oriented short fibers + 15%vol. SiC particles.
Complex 3D microstructure of the samples in as-cast condition, consisting of four and five phases (Al matrix, eutectic Si, intermetallics, Al2O3 fibers and SiC particles) was investigated by synchrotron computed tomography (CT). Advanced methods based on machine learning were applied for segmentation of all phases. This allowed extracting quantitative information such as volume fraction, shape and interconnectivity of every phase.
In-situ compression tests during neutron diffraction experiments were used to track the load transfer among phases, while CT on pre-strained samples to monitor and quantify damage. A micromechanical model was developed to simulate the evolution of the internal stress of each phase during uniaxial compression. We showed that in composites with the Al2O3 fiber mat plane perpendicular to the load axis the Al-alloy matrix presents a large hydrostatic stress component, i.e. undergoes compression also in the direction transverse to the external load. This feature holds with and without the addition of SiC ceramic reinforcement and is absent in the case when the Al2O3 fiber mat plane is parallel to the load axis. We show, that the intermetallics play a decisive role at very high loads, when all other reinforcement phases suffer (extensive) damage. The addition of SiC particles does alleviate the load on the Al2O3 fibers, on the eutectic Si, and on the intermetallic phases in both cases of parallel and orthogonal (to the load axis) Al2O3 fiber orientation. Apart from the beneficial addition of ceramic reinforcement, the presence of intermetallic phase and eutectic silicon, forming an interconnected network even at high loads, when single particles break, confers peculiar properties to these multi-phase composites.