Microstructural damage mechanisms owing to thermal cycling and isothermal exposure at elevated temperature are studied for a short alumina-silicate fiber-reinforced aluminum alloy (A356) composite produced by pressure casting. The tensile strength of the metal matrix composite is found to degrade considerably in each case. An X-ray double-crystal diffraction method is employed to study the mechanisms of recovery in the matrix. The fractal dimension of the X-ray "rocking curves" for individual grains in the composite reflects the substructure formation owing to the rearrangement of dislocations into subdomain walls. Recovery by polygonization is more pronounced in the case of thermal cycling than for equivalent isothermal exposure. The residual stresses in the matrix that provide the fiber clamping force undergo more relaxation in the case of isothermal exposure. The two competing damage mechanisms, thermally activated recovery by polygonization and relaxation of clamping stresses in the matrix, result in identical strength degradation (∼25%) for both thermal cycling and isothermal exposure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering