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Cryomilled Aluminum with Diamantane: Thermal Characterization by DSC and Effects of Magnesium

  • Author(s): Arnold, Michael Colin
  • Advisor(s): Earthman, James C
  • et al.

Many structural applications require a material that is both lightweight and corrosion resistant, for which aluminum and its alloys may be considered for use if not for their relatively low strength. By improving strength of aluminum through the Hall-Petch mechanism, it could become a more suitable choice for many structural applications. Cryomilling is used as a production technique to strengthen aluminum by reduction of grain size to the 20-50 nm range. Although the powders produced by cryomilling are well within the nanocrystalline regime, the powders experience significant grain growth during consolidation to a solid body. Cryomilled powders have been shown to remain nanocrystalline by introducing a nano-diamond, diamantane to the grain boundaries. To better characterize the thermal stability of the cryomilled powder with diamantane, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) was used to measure the isothermal heat flow in the 0.6Tm to 0.9Tm range. A model was developed to correlate the isothermal DSC signal to a grain growth curve and grain growth parameters were elucidated by assuming variable boundary mobility with a sigmoidal form. The model revealed a tendency for boundary mobility to transition from an athermal grain growth mechanism to standard thermally activated grain growth. Grain growth parameters were compared to shed light on possible mechanisms of aluminum-diamantane involvement during grain growth. Powders and consolidated samples with very low concentrations of diamantane and with magnesium were observed by TEM, SEM and XRD, and compared both separately and together to characterize the how thermal stability is affected by diamantane concentration and the presence of magnesium.

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