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Title: High-Throughput Combinatorial Development of High-Entropy Alloys For Light-Weight Structural Applications

Technical Report ·
DOI:· OSTI ID:1413702
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5]
  1. Intermolecular, Inc., San Jose, CA (United States)
  2. North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC (United States)
  3. The Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH (United States)
  4. Arconic, Pittsburgh, PA (United States)
  5. General Motors, Detroit, MI (United States)

The primary limitation of today’s lightweight structural alloys is that specific yield strengths (SYS) higher than 200MPa x cc/g (typical value for titanium alloys) are extremely difficult to achieve. This holds true especially at a cost lower than 5dollars/kg (typical value for magnesium alloys). Recently, high-entropy alloys (HEA) have shown promising SYS, yet the large composition space of HEA makes screening compositions complex and time-consuming. Over the course of this 2-year project we started from 150 billion compositions and reduced the number of potential low-density (<5g/cc), low-cost (<5dollars/kg) high-entropy alloy (LDHEA) candidates that are single-phase, disordered, solid-solution (SPSS) to a few thousand compositions. This was accomplished by means of machine learning to guide design for SPSS LDHEA based on a combination of recursive partitioning, an extensive, experimental HEA database compiled from 24 literature sources, and 91 calculated parameters serving as phenomenological selection rules. Machine learning shows an accuracy of 82% in identifying which compositions of a separate, smaller, experimental HEA database are SPSS HEA. Calculation of Phase Diagrams (CALPHAD) shows an accuracy of 71-77% for the alloys supported by the CALPHAD database, where 30% of the compiled HEA database is not supported by CALPHAD. In addition to machine learning, and CALPHAD, a third tool was developed to aid design of SPSS LDHEA. Phase diagrams were calculated by constructing the Gibbs-free energy convex hull based on easily accessible enthalpy and entropy terms. Surprisingly, accuracy was 78%. Pursuing these LDHEA candidates by high-throughput experimental methods resulted in SPSS LDHEA composed of transition metals (e.g. Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu) alloyed with Al, yet the high concentration of Al, necessary to bring the mass density below 5.0g/cc, makes these materials hard and brittle, body-centered-cubic (BCC) alloys. A related, yet multi-phase BCC alloy, based on Al-Cr-Fe-Ni, shows compressive strain >10% and specific compressive yield strength of 229 MPa x cc/g, yet does not show ductility in tensile tests due to cleavage. When replacing Cr in Al-Cr-Fe-based 4- and 5-element LDHEA with Mn, hardness drops 2x. Combined with compression test results, including those on the ternaries Al-Cr-Fe and Al-Mn-Fe suggest that Al-Mn-Fe-based LDHEA are still worth pursuing. These initial results only represent one compressive stress-strain curve per composition without any property optimization. As such, reproducibility needs to be followed by optimization to show their full potential. When including Li, Mg, and Zn, single-phase Li-Mg-Al-Ti-Zn LDHEA has been found with a specific ultimate compressive strength of 289MPa x cc/g. Al-Ti-Mn-Zn showed a specific ultimate compressive strength of 73MPa x cc/g. These initial results after hot isostatic pressing (HIP) of the ball-milled powders represent the lower end of what is possible, since no secondary processing (e.g. extrusion) has been performed to optimize strength and ductility. Compositions for multi-phase (e.g. dual-phase) LDHEA were identified largely by automated searches through CALPHAD databases, while screening for large face-centered-cubic (FCC) volume fractions, followed by experimental verification. This resulted in several new alloys. Li-Mg-Al-Mn-Fe and Mg-Mn-Fe-Co ball-milled powders upon HIP show specific ultimate compressive strengths of 198MPa x cc/g and 45MPa x cc/g, respectively. Several malleable quarternary Al-Zn-based alloys have been found upon arc/induction melting, yet with limited specific compressive yield strength (<75 MPa x cc/g). These initial results are all without any optimization for strength and/or ductility. High-throughput experimentation allowed us to triple the existing experimental HEA database as published in the past 10 years in less than 2 years which happened at a rate 10x higher than previous methods. Furthermore, we showed that high-throughput thin-film combinatorial methods can be used to get insight in isothermal phase diagram slices. Although it is straightforward to map hardness as a function of composition for sputtered, thin-film, compositional gradients by nano-indentation and compare the results to micro-indentation on bulk samples, the simultaneous impact of composition, roughness, film density, and microstructure on hardness requires monitoring all these properties as a function of location on the compositional gradient, including dissecting the impact of these 4 factors on the hardness map. These additional efforts impact throughput significantly. This work shows that a lot of progress has been made over the years in predicting phase formation that aids the discovery of new alloys, yet that a lot of work needs to be done to predict phases more accurately for LDHEA, whether done by CALPHAD or by other means. More importantly, more work needs to be done to predict mechanical properties of novel alloys, like yield strength, and ductility. Furthermore, this work shows that there is a need for the generation of an empirical alloy database covering strategic points in a multi-dimensional composition space to allow for faster and more accurate predictive interpolations to identify the oasis in the dessert more quickly. Finally, this work suggests that it is worth pursuing a ductile alloy with a SYS > 300 MPa x cc/g in a mass density range of 6-7 g/cc, since the chances for a single-phase or majority-phase FCC increase significantly. Today’s lightweight steels are in this density range.

Research Organization:
Intermolecular, Inc., San Jose, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Organization:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
Contributing Organization:
North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Arconic, GM
DOE Contract Number:
Report Number(s):
Country of Publication:
United States