Abstract: Over the past five years, an application-oriented research strategy has been initiated by ESA to permit valuable microgravity research in a broad range of physical sciences. The main objective is to integrate ESA, national activities and industry into an overall European strategy, which will allow research to be performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS), as well as other microgravity platforms, like unmanned space capsules, sounding rockets and parabolic flights.
A key area of microgravity research is centred on metallurgy in space. The principal aims of this research field are (i) to investigate various physical phenomena during solidification processes and (ii) to determine the thermophysical properties of important liquid alloys. A number of metallurgical sub-topics have been identified in the ESA research programme, including the columnar-to-equiaxed transition during solidification; metastable and non-equilibrium solidification; multiphase multicomponent alloy solidification; eutectic, peritectic, monotectic and intermetallic alloy growth; fluid flow effects on mushy zone formation; and the measurement of thermophysical properties of liquid alloys. This review paper will therefore highlight the theoretical,
experimental and modelling efforts currently being undertaken in the ESA programme.
Abstract: The high sensitivity of the low temperature electrical properties of p-type pure tellurium (Te) to impurities, structural boundaries, point defects and dislocations allows to investigate the structural imperfection profiles in crystals grown under different conditions. Our interest was focused on studying the influence of grain boundaries on the electrical properties of the samples that were remelted and directionally solidified in space (µg) without a seed (W-µg), in comparison
with the sample grown under the normal earth conditions (1g0) and a nanocluster sample obtained by filling with melted Te of dielectric opal matrix voids (Opal sample). The W-µg ingot of Te was prepared in the "Crystallizator" furnace under microgravity conditions aboard the "Mir" space station . The concentration variation of electrically active defects and neutral defects along the samples
were studied by galvanomagnetic methods (Hall effect and electrical resistivity) in a wide temperature range from 0.4 to 300 K. In these measurements, the following effects caused by the micro- and nano- crystalline structure were found: low hole mobility, high concentration of neutral defects, and anomalous positive magnetoresistance in low magnetic fields at low temperatures. Besides, the specific resistivity of the space sample was found to oscillate (up to 20%) along the
length which can be correlated with the presence of a few contact points of the melt with the ampoule wall. This ingot was formed as a result of rapid homogeneous spontaneous solidification, accompanied by forming a micro-block structure.
The appearance of the anomalous positive magnetoresistance was observed in the micro-block W- sample and the nanocluster Opal sample. It is a consequence of intensive hole scattering at the grain boundaries which leads to an increase of the intervalley transition probability and to a change of the spin sign of holes in a low symmetry Te crystal. According to the weak localization theory , the spin variation during the scattering results in a positive magnetoresistance of the
sample in low magnetic fields, in contrast to bulk Te crystals.
Abstract: A model has been developed by taking into account the common action of the nucleation, the diffusional growth, the collisions and coagulations of the minority phase droplets and the spatial phase segregation to describe the microstructure evolution in an immiscible alloy solidified rapidly under the vertical directional solidification conditions. The model is satisfactorily verified by comparison with an analytically solvable case first, and then applied to predict the microstructure
evolution in a directionally solidified Al-Pb alloy. The numerical results show that at a high solidification velocity a constitutional supercooling region appears in front of the solid/liquid interface and the liquid-liquid decomposition takes place there. A higher solidification velocity leads to a higher nucleation rate for a given temperature gradient and, therefore, a higher number density of the minority phase droplets. As a result, the average radius of droplets in the melt at the solid/liquid interface decreases with the solidification velocity.
Abstract: We prepared Al-Bi alloys with our new aerogel counter gravity casting facility and Al-Pb alloys by simple mould casting with variable cooling rates. By counter gravity casting, it is possible to have directional solidification with flat isotherms and without forced melt flow during the casting process. Both methods allow studying the nucleation rate in liquid-liquid decomposition. The most important result is that a separation between monotectic and hypermonotectic particles is possible
by using suitable cooling rates. The difference of the frequency maxima is a function, depending on cooling rate and starting composition. By casting experiments with variable cooling rates, we found that the average particle diameter is a function of the cooling rate, according to the theory of Ratke and Zhao, but the nucleation rate is higher than assumed in their theory.
Abstract: Early solidification experiments in immiscible alloy systems almost immediately led to
conflicting findings between investigators. Investigations revealed that several factors usually considered unimportant, especially the interfacial energy relationships between phases, could have a dramatic influence on the types of microstructures produced in immiscible alloy systems. During the 1980s, work concentrated on the influence interfacial energy on microstructure. However, some
findings raised new questions. In the mid 1990s and continuing through today, most efforts have focused on modeling the monotectic growth process and on obtaining steady state coupled growth conditions in hypermonotectic alloys. This paper focuses on some of the advances that have been made to date in understanding solidification in immiscible alloy systems and some of the questions that remain to be answered.
Abstract: Within the frame of the ESA research program SETA, “Solidification along a Eutectic
Path in Ternary Alloys”, experiments have been performed focussing on several distinct subtopics. One of these subtopics is to study coupled growth along the univariant eutectic reaction: L → α + β. In this paper, the influence of the growth velocity v on the morphology of the solid/liquid interface is evaluated in a ternary Al-Cu-Si alloy with a composition close to the univariant eutectic groove
L → α(Al) + θ-Αl2Cu. Different structural regions can be identified in terms of the stability of the solid-liquid interface (morphological stability) and the stability of the coupling (competitive growth) during unidirectional solidification as function of the solidification parameters. It is found that two-phase planar growth with a lamellar arrangement can be obtained at a sufficiently low growth rate v. The measured interlamellar spacing follows the Jackson and Hunt relationship λ2v = constant. At a higher growth velocity first a destabilisation of the solid/liquid interface is
observed and finally competitive growth is observed revealing primary θ-Al2Cu growing ahead of the eutectic interface. It is assumed that the cellular break-up is a two-step process related to the crystallography of the system. Fitting the different morphologies into one microstructure map, an extension of the coupled zone concept as has been proposed for binary alloys is necessary.
Abstract: Coupled, regular eutectic growth of α(Al) and Al2Cu from ternary Al-Cu-Ag liquid
alloys is investigated with focus on the formation and the characteristics of eutectic cells in unidirectionally solidified, polycrystalline, bulk samples. The topologic anisotropy of the lamellar eutectic leads to destabilization along the lamellae with elongated cells being intermediate to stable cells, irrespective of the crystallographic orientation of the phases. The formation of stable cellular patterns with elongated or regular cell structure is explained with reference to the crystal orientation
of the phases α(Al) and Al2Cu, measured by electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD).
Abstract: Hypereutectic ductile iron was cast in green sand moulds with four plates with thickness of 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 mm in each mould. Temperatures were measured in the 3 and 4 mm plate. The temperature curves showed that eutectic solidification was divided into two stages: primary and secondary eutectic solidification. The first stage, which was relatively short, had none or very little recalescence. Further under cooling, followed by reheating during recalescence, was necessary to
initiate the second part of the eutectic solidification. Both the secondary under cooling and recalescence was larger in the 3 mm plates than in the 4 mm plates. All 1.5 mm plates contained carbides but the other plates solidified without carbides. Metallographic examination showed two populations of graphite nodules. A small group of nodules was larger than rest of the nodules. Color etching revealing the segregation of Si showed a higher Si content in the ferrite around the larger
nodules compared to the ferrite around the rest of the nodules. This indicates that solidification took place along the following path: The solidification starts with nucleation and growth of primary graphite nodules. This probably starts during the filling of the mould. The primary nodules act as nuclei for austenite. As austenite easily nucleates on graphite the temperature will be the same for the 3 and 4 mm plate for the first part of the eutectic solidification. This first part of the
solidification ends when concentration of carbon around austenite dendrites is too large and new nodules have to nucleate and grow. The larger under cooling for the 3 mm plates compared to the 4 mm indicates that the nucleation of new nodules is governed by kinetics even in very well inoculated melts.
Abstract: In-situ synchrotron X-ray radiography has been used to study columnar and equiaxed dendritic growth in directional solidification of Al-Cu alloys employing a Bridgman furnace. Nominal spatial and temporal resolutions of 1.5 µm and 150 ms, respectively, were obtained with a 1.3 %1.3 mm2 field of view, and a signal-to-noise above 99.5 %. Dedicated processing software has been developed to allow for quantitative extraction of data such as solid-liquid interface morphology, local propagation velocities and constitutional gradients from the images. The data
collected also contain unprecedented in-situ observations on dendrite fragmentation. The limited field of view together with a slight sample position dependency in the heat transfer coefficients made it necessary to impose thermal gradients, G > 10 K/mm, to have reproducible solidification processes. Non-vanishing horizontal G-components contributed to convection that at some occasions resulted in observable effects on growing crystals or on liquid segregates.