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posted on 06.05.2021, 12:41 by Siming Ma

Aluminum alloys have broad applications in aerospace, automotive, and defense industries as structural material due to the low density, high-specific strength, good castability and formability. However, aluminum alloys commonly suffer from problems such as low yield strength, low stiffness, and poor wear and tear resistance, and therefore are restricted to certain advanced industrial applications. To overcome the problems, one promising method is the fabrication of aluminum matrix composites (AMCs) by introducing ceramic reinforcements (fibers, whiskers or particles) in the metal matrix. AMCs typically possess advanced properties than the matrix alloys such as high specific modulus, strength, wear resistance, thermal stability, while remain the low density. Among the AMCs, particulate reinforced aluminum matrix composites (PRAMCs) are advantageous for their isotropic properties, ease of fabrication, and low costs. Particularly, the PRAMCs with in-situ particulate reinforcements have received great interest recent years. The in-situ fabricated particles are synthesized in an aluminum matrix via chemical reactions. They are more stable and finer in size, and have a more uniform distribution in the aluminum matrix and stronger interface bonding with aluminum matrix, compared to the ex-situ particulate reinforcements. As a consequence, the in-situ PRAMCs have superior strength and mechanical properties as advanced engineering materials for a broad range of industrial applications.

This dissertation focuses on the investigation of high strength aluminum matrix composites reinforced with in-situ particulates. The first chapter provides a brief introduction for the studied materials in the dissertation, including the background, the scope, the significance and the research questions of the study. The second chapter presents the literature review on the basic knowledge, the fabrication methods, the mechanical properties of in-situ PRAMCs. The strengthening mechanisms and strategies of in-situ PRAMCs are summarized. Besides, the micromechanical simulation is introduced as a complementary methodology for the investigation of the microstructure-properties relationship of the in-situ PRAMCs. The third chapter shows the framework and methodology of this dissertation, including material preparation and material characterization methods, phase diagram method and finite element modelling.

In Chapter 4, the microstructures and mechanical properties of in-situ Al3Ti particulate reinforced A356 composites are investigated. The microstructure and mechanical properties of in-situ 5 vol. % Al3Ti/A356 composites are studied either taking account of the effects of T6 heat treatment and strontium (Sr) addition or not. Chapter 5 studies the evolution of intermetallic phases in the Al-Si-Ti alloy during solution treatment, based on the work of Chapter 4. The as-cast Al-Si-Ti alloy is solution treated at 540 °C for different periods between 0 to 72 h to understand the evolution of intermetallic phases. In Chapter 6, a three-dimensional (3D) micromechanical simulation is conducted to study the effects of particle size, fraction and distribution on the mechanical behavior of the in-situ Al3Ti/A356 composite. The mechanical behavior of the in-situ Al3Ti/A356 composite is studied by three-dimensional (3D) micromechanical simulation with microstructure-based Representative Volume Element (RVE) models. The effects of hot rolling and heat treatment on the microstructure and mechanical properties of an in-situ TiB2/Al2618 composite with minor Sc addition are investigated in Chapter 7. TiB2/Al2618 composites ingots were fabricated in-situ via salt-melt reactions and subjected to hot rolling. The microstructure and mechanical properties of the TiB2/Al2618 composite are investigated by considering the effects of particle volume fraction, hot rolling thickness reduction, and heat treatment.


Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy



Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xiaoming Wang

Additional Committee Member 2

Sarah E. Leach

Additional Committee Member 3

Milan Rakita

Additional Committee Member 4

David R. Johnson