Homogeneous Cu90Co10 alloys were prepared by rapid solidification using the meltspin technique. The decomposition process of this highly supersaturated unstable solid solution was investigated on a nanometer scale using a combination of atom probe field ion microscopy (AP/FIM) analyses and transmission electron microscopy.
Annealing of the Cu90Co10 alloys at 440°C for various times leads to the formation of a compositional modulated microstructure within the grains. The composition profiles determined by AP/FIM analyses clearly exclude a classical nucleation and growth behavior of Co-rich particles. The microstructure is modulated with two different wavelengths. In addition, chemical ordering perpendicular to  directions of the fee lattice is observed.
At the grain boundaries of this alloy, heterogeneous nucleation of pure Co particles is observed. This heterogeneous nucleation process competes with the decomposition within the grains.