Effect Of Atomic Mobility In The Precipitate Phase On Coarsening : A Phase Field Study
In this thesis, we have used a phase field model for studying the effect of atomic mobility inside the precipitate phase on coarsening behaviour in two dimensional (2D) systems. In all the available coarsening theories, the diffusivity inside the precipitate phase is not explicitly taken into account; this would imply that there is no chemical potential gradient inside the precipitate. This assumption is valid if (a) the atomic mobility inside the precipitate is much higher than that in the matrix, or (b) the precipitate volume fraction is small (i.e. the interparticle spacing is far higher than the average particle size). We undertook this study to evaluate the potential effect of diffusivity in the precipitate on coarsening in situations where conditions (a) and (b), above, do not hold, by studying systems with moderate volume fractions (20% and 30%) and with low atomic mobilities in the precipitate. In our study, we have fixed the atomic mobility in the matrix at a constant value. We have used the well known Cahn-Hilliard model in which the microstructure is described in terms of a composition field variable. The evolution of microstructure is studied by numerically solving a non-classical diffusion equation known as the Cahn-Hilliard equation. We have used a semi-implicit Fourier spectral technique for solving the CH equation using periodic boundary conditions. The coarsening behaviour is tracked and analyzed using number density of particles, their average size and their size distribution. The main conclusion from this study is that, contrary to expectations, the atomic mobility in the precipitate phase has only a small effect on coarsening behavior. Specifically, with decreasing atomic mobility in the precipitate phase, we report a small increase in the number density, a slightly wider size distribution and a slightly smaller coarsening rate. We also add that these effects are too small to allow experimental verification. These results indicate that the need for chemical potential equilibration within each precipitate is not an important factor during coarsening.