Metals (2018-01-01)

Determination of Three-Dimensional Morphology and Inner Structure of Second-Phase Inclusions in Metals by Non-Aqueous Solution Electrolytic and Room Temperature Organic Methods

  • Jing Guo,
  • Keming Fang,
  • Hanjie Guo,
  • Yiwa Luo,
  • Shengchao Duan,
  • Xiao Shi,
  • Wensheng Yang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 1
p. 68


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The secondary-phase particles in metals, particularly those composed of non-metallic materials, are often detrimental to the mechanical properties of metals; thus, it is crucial to control inclusion formation and growth. One of the challenges is determining the three-dimensional morphology and inner structures of such inclusions. In this study, a non-aqueous solution electrolytic method and a room-temperature organic technique were developed based on the principle of electrochemistry to determine the three-dimensional morphologies and inner structures of non-metallic inclusions in Al-killed steel, Si-killed steel, and ductile cast iron. The inclusions were first extracted without any damage to the inclusions, and then the collected inclusions were wrapped and cut through Cu ion deposition. The results revealed that the inclusions in Al-killed steel had an irregular morphology, that those in the Si-killed steel were mainly spherical, and that almost all the spheroidal graphite in the ductile cast iron featured a uniform globular morphology. In addition, nucleation was not observed in the inner structures of the inclusions in the Al-killed steel, while some dendritic or rod-like MnS phase precipitates appeared on the silicate inclusion surfaces, and some silicate-rich phases were detected in their inner matrix. For spheroidal graphite, rare-earth oxides (one particle or more) were observed as nuclei in the center of almost every graphite particle. The formation and evolution of inclusions in these types of metals can be better understood by means of the two developed methods.