In this paper recent developments of diffusion in three related areas will be reviewed: The first part is devoted to self- and solute diffusion in metals with particular emphasis on Al. Contrary to most other metallic solvents, diffusion of transition elements in Al is anomalous in several respects: diffusion is very slow, activation enthalpies, pre-exponential factors and activation volumes are unusually high. By contrast, non-transition elements in Al show more or less normal solute diffusion behaviour. The anomalous behaviour is attributed to a strong repulsive interaction between transition metal solutes and vacancies. Ab-initio calculations could help to understand this well-documented diffusion problem in detail.
In the second part very recent diffusion studies on single crystals of the Al-base quasicrystalline intermetallic compound Al-Pd-Mn will be discussed. Diffusion of Zn, Ge, Mn, Fe, Co, Pd and Au has been studied by various groups. At least in the high-temperature regime diffusion in the quasicrystal – despite some differences in detail – shows striking similarities to diffusion in Al, for which a vacancy-type mechanism is generally accepted. The activation volumes of +0.67 and +0.74 atomic volumes measured for Mn- and Zn-diffusion in Al-Pd-Mn strongly favour a vacancy mechanism as well. For the low temperature regime of Pd and Au diffusion the possibility of a phason-related mechanism is discussed.
The third part deals with recent investigations of iron-aluminides and iron-silicides for which Fe self-diffusion and diffusion of selected foreign elements (Ge in Fe–Si, In and Zn in Fe–Al) has been investigated. There is no doubt that vacancies mediate the diffusion process. Within this general mechanism a number of factors like the crystal structure, the state of order, the composition, and the type of bonding have strong influence on diffusion. Such factors are discussed also in connection with results from positron annihilation and M6ssbauer spectroscopy.