Scripta Materialia 54 (2006) 1321–1326
www.actamatjournals.com
Consideration of Orowan strengthening eﬀect in particulatereinforced metal matrix nanocomposites:
A model for predicting their yield strength
Z. Zhang, D.L. Chen *
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ont., Canada M5B 2K3
Received 28 October 2005; received in revised form 17 November 2005; accepted 8 December 2005 Available online 18 January 2006
Abstract
An analytical model for predicting the yield strength of particulatereinforced metal matrix nanocomposites has been developed. The strengthening eﬀects involving (i) Orowan strengthening eﬀect, (ii) enhanced dislocation density due to the residual plastic strain caused by the diﬀerence in the coeﬃcients of thermal expansion between the matrix and particles, and (iii) loadbearing eﬀect have been taken into account in the model. The prediction is in good agreement with the experimental data reported in the literature. 2006 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Metal matrix nanocomposites; Yield strength; Orowan strengthening; Loadbearing eﬀect; Enhanced dislocation density strengthening
1. Introduction
Nanocrystalline materials form an exciting area of mate rials research because bulk materials with grain sizes of less than 100 nm have properties that are not seen in their microcrystalline counterparts [1,2]. However, nanostruc tured materials generally suﬀer from insuﬃcient ductility and reduced toughness compared with the conventional microcrystalline materials. On the other hand, metal matrix nanocomposites (MMNCs) are most promising in produc ing balanced mechanical properties between nano and microstructured materials, i.e., enhanced hardness, Young’s modulus, 0.2% yield strength, ultimate tensile strength and ductility [3–9], due to the addition of nano sized reinforcement particles into the matrix. To facilitate the development of MMNCs, it is necessary to develop constitutive relationships that can be used to predict the bulk mechanical properties of MMNCs as a function of the reinforcement, matrix, and processing con
^{*} Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 416 979 5000x6487; fax: +1 416 979
5265.
Email address: dchen@ryerson.ca (D.L. Chen).
ditions. In the past few years, some modeling work [10–13] has been done in this regard. Fan et al. [10] proposed a generalized law of mixture by using a rigorous continuum mechanics analysis and an equivalent microstructural transformation approach. He et al. [11] and Holtz et al. [12] qualitatively explained their results using Fan et al.’s model. Lurie et al. [13] developed a continuum mechanics model by consideration of interactions between the nano particles and the matrix. However, in order to use the con tinuum mechanics approach the authors [10–13] tried to modify the interface between the matrix and reinforcement particles. The diﬃculty with the continuum approach is that it ignores the inﬂuence of particles on the microme chanics of deformation and strengthening mechanisms, such as the location of particles, grain size, and dislocation density [14]. That is to say, the strengthening mechanisms or the types of MMNCs, which are the key factors in dom inating the mechanical behavior, especially the yield strength, were not fully considered. In the meantime, Ramakrishnan [15] proposed an analytical model for pre dicting the yield strength of the microsized particulaterein forced metal matrix composite (MMCs), using a composite sphere model for the intragranular type of MMCs and
13596462/$  see front matter 2006 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2005.12.017
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Z. Zhang, D.L. Chen / Scripta Materialia 54 (2006) 1321–1326
incorporating two improvement parameters associated with the dislocation strengthening of the matrix and the loadbearing eﬀect of the reinforcement. This model, repre senting an incorporation of both continuum and microme chanics approaches, has been used to predict the lowcycle fatigue life of discontinuous reinforced MMCs [16,17]. However, Ramakrishnan’s model was applicable only for MMCs containing microsized particles. The objective of this investigation was to model and predict the yield strength of the intragranular type of MMNCs, which represents one of the most important aspects of the nanocomposite strengthening mechanisms and eﬀects. By considering the strengthening mechanisms of MMNCs, and incorporating Ramakrishnan’s model and the Orowan strengthening eﬀect, an analytical model for predicting the yield strength of particulatereinforced MMNCs has been proposed. The theoretical predictions based on this model were found to be in good agreement with the experimental data reported in the literature.
2. Model development
Due to the excellent mechanical properties, MMNCs have attracted the interest of many researchers. A lot of work has been done involving diﬀerent synthesis methods, structures, mechanical properties, and strengthening mech anisms of MMNCs. Since the strengthening mechanisms of MMNCs are fundamental to the development of the pres ent model, they are ﬁrst summarized as follows.
2.1. Orowan strengthening mechanism
Orowan strengthening, caused by the resistance of closely spaced hard particles to the passing of dislocations, is important in aluminium alloys. It is widely acknowl edged, however, that Orowan strengthening is not signiﬁ cant in the microsized particulatereinforced MMCs, because the reinforcement particles are coarse and the interparticle spacing is large. Furthermore, since the rein forcement is often found to lie on the grain boundaries of the matrix, it is unclear whether the Orowan mechanism can operate at all under these circumstances [18]. For melt processed MMCs with the usuallyused particles of 5 lm or larger, Orowan strengthening has indeed been pointed out to be not a major factor [14]. In contrast, due to the pres ence of highlydispersed nanosized reinforcement particles (smaller than 100 nm) in a metal matrix, Orowan strengthening becomes more favourable in MMNCs. It has been well established that the presence of a dispersion of ﬁne ( 100 nm) insoluble particles in a metal can consid erably raise the creep resistance, even for only a small volume fraction (<1%), due to the fact that Orowan bowing is necessary for dislocations to bypass the particles [18]. For composites containing ﬁne particles, strengthening is often explained by the Orowan mechanism [7,19–21]. Shao et al. [7] explained the improved hardness in the nanocom posite Ni/Al _{2} O _{3} ﬁlms by using the Orowan dislocation
bowing mechanism. Thilly et al. [21] observed Orowan loop mechanism and used it to simulate the good mechanical properties of Cu/Nb nanocomposites. It is noted that ther mal stresses around the nanoparticles are large enough to cause plastic deformation in the matrix and dislocation loops around the vicinity of the nanoparticles [22,23]. In addition, secondary processing, such as extrusion, is used to synthesize MMNCs. It is clear that plastic deformation has occurred during synthesis of MMNCs and Orowan loops are expected to exert a back stress on dislocation sources [24]. Therefore, it is necessary to take into consider ation the Orowan strengthening in the modeling of MMNCs.
2.2. Enhanced dislocation density strengthening
mechanism
In MMNCs, the increased interfacial area between the reinforcement and matrix contributes to the enhanced mechanical properties due to the nanosized particles. Also because of the thermal mismatch between the reinforce ment and the matrix, which are in the thermal equilibrium only at the temperature at which they are brought into contact during the process, on cooling from the processing temperature thermal stresses around the nanoparticles large enough to cause plastic deformation are generated in the matrix, especially in the interface region [25]. These stresses reduce quickly with increasing distance from the boundary, which can generate small defects such as dislo cations in the close vicinity of nanosized particles [23]. The presence of a high dislocation density near the inter face between the matrix and reinforcement particles has been experimentally observed [26,27].
2.3. Loadbearing eﬀect of the reinforcement
strengthening mechanism
Due to the nanosize of the reinforcement particles and the sound synthesizing methods, there is a strong cohesion at the atomic level between the matrix and particles, i.e., the nanosized particles are directly bonded to the matrix
[28–30].
In general, the yield strength of a composite material is the stress required to operate dislocation sources and is governed by the presence and magnitude of all the obsta cles that restrict the motion of dislocations in the matrix. For MMCs, Ramakrishnan [15] proposed an analytical model to predict the yield strength by incorporating a mod iﬁed shear lag model (continuum mechanics approach) and an enhanced dislocation density model (micromechanics strengthening approach),
ð1Þ
where r _{y}_{c} ^{m} is the yield strength of the MMCs, r _{y}_{m} is the yield
strength of the monolithic matrix, f _{l} is the improvement factor associated with the loadbearing eﬀect of the rein
forcement, f _{d} is the improvement factor related to the
^{m} ¼ r _{y}_{m} ð1 þ f _{l} Þð1 þ f _{d} Þ;
r _{y}_{c}
Z. Zhang, D.L. Chen / Scripta Materialia 54 (2006) 1321–1326
1323
dislocation density in the matrix, caused by the thermal mismatch between the matrix and the reinforcement particles. As stated above, for MMNCs Orowan strengthening mechanism should be taken into consideration. When several strengthening eﬀects are simultaneously present, one way would be to use the rules of addition of the strengthening contributions, e.g., by Lilholt [31]. In this investigation Ramakrishnan’s approach [15] is considered, since it was shown that both additive and synergistic eﬀects could be taken into account. Thus, the yield strength of particulatereinforced MMNCs, r _{y}_{c} , may be expressed as,
r _{y}_{c} ¼ r _{y}_{m} ð1 þ f _{l} Þð1 þ f _{d} Þð1 þ f _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} Þ; ð2Þ
where f _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} is the improvement factor associated with Orowan strengthening of the nanoparticles. For particu latereinforced composites the general expression for f _{l} is
[15,16,32], 

f _{l} ¼ 0:5V _{p} ; 
ð3Þ 
where V _{p} is the volume fraction of the reinforcement nano particles. f _{d} has been expressed to be [33],
f _{d} ¼ kG _{m} b
where G _{m} is the shear modulus of the matrix, b is the Bur gers vector of the matrix, k is a constant, approximately equal to 1.25, q is the enhanced dislocation density which is assumed to be entirely due to the residual plastic strain developed due to the diﬀerence in the coeﬃcients of thermal expansion (D CTE) between the reinforcement phase and the matrix during the postfabrication cooling. For equiaxed particulates the following expression was reported [34],
q ﬃﬃﬃ = r _{y}_{m} ;
p
ð4Þ
q ¼ 12
Da D TV
p
bd _{p} ð1 _{V} _{p} _{Þ} ^{;}
ð5Þ
where d _{p} is the particle size, D a is the diﬀerence in the coeﬃcients of the thermal expansion, DT is the diﬀerence between the processing and test temperatures. The improvement factor f _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} related to the Orowan strengthening of nanoparticles introduced in Eq. (2) can be expressed as,
ð6Þ
f Orowan ¼ D r Orowan = r ym ;
where D r _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} has been described by the Orowan–Ashby equation [24],
Dr Orowan ¼ ^{0}^{:}^{1}^{3}^{G} ^{m} ^{b}
_{k}
ln _{b} ;
r
ð7Þ
where r is the particle radius, r = d _{p} /2, and k is the interpar ticle spacing, expressed as [16,35],
k
d _{p}
"
1
2V
p
1
^{3} 1 # .
ð8Þ
Substituting Eqs. (3)–(8) into Eq. (2) and considering DT = T _{p}_{r}_{o}_{c}_{e}_{s}_{s} T _{t}_{e}_{s}_{t} , Da = a _{m} a _{p} , one can derive the fol lowing equation for the yield strength of MMNCs,
Volume fraction of nanoparticles
Fig. 1. Yield strength as a function of volume fraction of nanoparticles for diﬀerent particle sizes in nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced magnesium nanocomposites tested at 20 C.
r _{y}_{c} ¼ ð1 þ 0:5V _{p} Þ
r _{y}_{m} þ A þ B þ ^{A}^{B} ;
r
ym
A ¼ 1:25G _{m} b
s
ﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ
12ðT process T test Þð a m a p ÞV p
bd _{p} ð1 V _{p} Þ
_{B}
_{¼}
0:13G _{m} b
d p
d p
1
2V
p
1
^{3} 1
_{2}_{b} ^{.}
ln
;
ð9Þ
ð9aÞ
ð9bÞ
Fig. 1 presents the analytical results of the eﬀect of the
volume fraction (V _{p} ) on the yield strength based on Eq. (9) for diﬀerent sizes of reinforcement nanoparticu lates (d _{p} ). The data for the nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulate reinforced magnesium nanocomposites tested at room temperature [8,36] are used: r _{y}_{m} = 97 MPa, E _{m} = 42.8 GPa,
m = 0.3, G _{m} = E _{m} /[2(1 + m )] = 16.5 GPa, b = 0.32 nm,
a _{m} = 28.4 · 10 ^{} ^{6} ( C) ^{} ^{1} , a _{p} = 9.0 · 10 ^{} ^{6} ( C) ^{} ^{1} , T _{p}_{r}_{o}_{c}_{e}_{s}_{s} =
300 
C, T _{t}_{e}_{s}_{t} = 20 C, and d _{p} = 20, 30, 40, 50, 70 and 
100 
nm. Two trends can be seen from Fig. 1: (i) a higher vol 
ume fraction of nanoparticles leads to a higher yield strength; (ii) the nanoparticle size has a strong eﬀect on the yield strength. A small volume fraction of nanoparticu lates of less than 0.06 can signiﬁcantly improve the yield strength of MMNCs.
3. Veriﬁcation of the model and discussion
The yield strength predicted via the present model, i.e., Eq. (9), in a nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced magnesium nanocomposite as a function of nanoparticle size can be seen in Fig. 2. Clearly, the nanoparticle size has a signiﬁ cant eﬀect on the yield strength when the volume fraction is slightly higher, e.g., V _{p} P 0.01. Another important point is that the improvement in the yield strength of the MMNCs becomes very strong when the nanoparticle size is smaller than about 100 nm. This is in agreement with
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Nanoparticle size, nm
Fig. 2. Yield strength as a function of nanoparticle size for diﬀerent volume fractions in nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced magnesium nano composites tested at 20 C.
the experimental results [8,36], and provides a theoretical support to the terminology of nanotechnology, e.g., deﬁned by the US National Science Foundation [37], where ‘‘
The novel and diﬀerentiating properties and functions
are developed at a critical length scale of matter typically ’’
under 100 nm
the area of nanocomposites have also done their research by controlling the nanoparticle size below 100 nm. Thus, 100 nm is the critical size for nanoparticulatereinforced MMNCs to produce excellent mechanical properties, com pared to the counterpart of microparticulatereinforced MMCs. Good agreement between the present model prediction, based on Eq. (9), and the experimental data is observed and shown in Fig. 3. It is seen that the present model can be used to better predict the yield strength than Rama
is speciﬁed. Most researchers [9,14] in
Volume fraction of nanoparticles
Fig. 3. A comparison of the present model with Ramakrishnan’s model [15] and with the experimental data for nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced magnesium nanocomposites tested at 20 C [8].
krishnan’s model [15], thus indicating that Orowan
strengthening eﬀect should be taken into account in MMNCs. Since the tensile bar contained rod shaped
Al _{2} O _{3} nanoparticles [8], the strengthening eﬀect of such a rod shape should be higher than the spherical one [24]. In our model all nanoparticles were assumed to be spherical. This is probably why our model slightly underestimates the ﬁrst two experimental data. On the other hand, with increasing volume fraction of the reinforcement particles, the probability of forming the processinginduced voids becomes higher, leading to a degradation of the yield strength [38]. This would be the main reason why the third experimental value was somewhat lower than our model prediction, because in the present model no porosity was considered within the nanocomposites. To further verify our model, another comparison between the present model prediction and the experimental data reported in Ref. [39] is shown in Fig. 4, where the eﬀect of the particle shape related to Orowan strengthening is also considered [24,39]. The following data for the Y _{2} O _{3}  reinforced titanium nanocomposites tested at room tem perature are used: r _{y}_{m} = 330 MPa [39]; G _{m} = 44.8 GPa,
a _{p} =
b = 0.29 nm
for A _{1} , B _{1} , C _{1} , D _{1}
9.3 · 10 ^{} ^{6} ( C) ^{} ^{1} [42], T _{p}_{r}_{o}_{c}_{e}_{s}_{s} = 827 C
and 900 C for A _{2} , B _{2} , C _{2} , and d _{p} = 2, 10, 9, 13, 40, 10 and 30 nm [39]. On the basis of the values of the weight fraction given in Ref. [39], the following converted values
of volume fraction V _{p} = 0.25, 0.38, 0.59, 0.59, 0.27, 0.41 and 0.54% are utilized. Again, good agreement between the model prediction for the minimum sized reinforcement particles and the experimental data is seen in Fig. 4, where a combined eﬀect
[40];
a _{m} = 11.9 · 10 ^{} ^{6} ( C) ^{} ^{1}
[41],
YS predicted by present model, MPa
Fig. 4. A comparison of the prediction via the present model with the experimental data for Y _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced titanium nanocompos ites tested at room temperature, where the error bar was based on the range given in Ref. [39].
Z. Zhang, D.L. Chen / Scripta Materialia 54 (2006) 1321–1326
1325
Volume fraction of nanoparticles
Fig. 5. A comparison among the three improvement factors (f _{l} , f _{d} , f _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} ) as a function of the volume fraction of nanoparticles in nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced Mg nanocomposites.
of the variation in the volume fraction of nanoparticles, thermomechanical treatment, and microstructure has been taken into consideration. The above comparison between the present model prediction and the experimental data corroborates that it is necessary to consider Orowan strengthening in MMNCs. Fig. 5 shows an example of the comparison among the three improvement factors (f _{l} , f _{d} , f _{O}_{r}_{o}_{w}_{a}_{n} ) as a function of the volume fraction of nanoparticles with a size of 50 nm in nanoAl _{2} O _{3} particulatereinforced Mg nanocomposites. It is also seen that Orowan strengthening plays a signiﬁcant role in MMNCs, while the loadbearing eﬀect becomes very small.
4. Conclusions
(1) A model for predicting the yield strength of intra granular type of metal matrix nanocomposites (MMNCs) is proposed on the basis of the strengthen ing eﬀects characterized by the modiﬁed shear lag model, enhanced dislocation density model, and the Orowan strengthening eﬀect. (2) It is shown that the yield strength of MMNCs is governed by the size and volume fraction of nanopar ticles, the diﬀerence in the coeﬃcients of thermal expansion between the matrix and nanoparticles, and the temperature change after processing. (3) The present model indicates that 100 nm is a critical size of nanoparticles to improve the yield strength of MMNCs, below which the yield strength increases remarkably with decreasing particle size. (4) The proposed model shows excellent agreement with the experimental data reported in the literature, indi cating that it is necessary to consider Orowan strengthening in MMNCs.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the ﬁnancial support provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Re search Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Premier’s Re search Excellence Award (PREA).
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