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We review microstructures and properties of metal matrix composites produced by severe plastic deformation of multiphase alloys. Typical processings are wire drawing, ball milling, roll bonding, equal-channel angular extrusion, and high-pressure torsion of multiphase materials. Similar phenomena occur between solids in frictional contact such as in tribology, friction stir welding, and explosive joining. The resulting compounds are characterized by very high interface and dislocation density, chemical mixing, and atomic-scale structural transitions at heterointerfaces. Upon straining, the phases form into nanoscaled filaments. This leads to enormous strengthening combined with good ductility, as in damascene steels or pearlitic wires, which are among the strongest nanostructured bulk materials available today (tensile strength above 6 GPa). Similar materials are Cu-Nb and Cu-Ag composites, which also have good electrical conductivity that qualifies them for use in high-field magnets. Beyond the engineering opportunities, there are also exciting fundamental questions. They relate to the nature of the complex dislocation, amorphization, and mechanical alloying mechanisms upon straining and their relationship to the enormous strength. Studying these mechanisms is enabled by mature atomic-scale characterization and simulation methods. A better understanding of the extreme strength in these materials also provides insight into modern alloy design based on complex solid solution phenomena.
Copper-based high strength nanofilamentary wires reinforced by bcc
nanofilaments (Nb or Ta) are prepared by severe plastic deformation for the
winding of high pulsed magnets. In-situ tensile tests under neutron beam
were performed on a Cu/Nb nanocomposite composed of a multiscale Cu matrix
embedding 554 Nb filaments with a diameter of 267 nm and spacing
of 45 nm. The evolution of elastic strains for individual lattice plane in
each phase and peak profiles in the copper matrix versus applied stress
evidenced the co-deformation behavior with different elastic-plastic regimes
and load sharing: the Cu matrix exhibits size effect in the finest channels
while the Nb nanowhiskers remain elastic up to the macroscopic failure, with
a strong load transfer from the copper matrix onto zones that are still in
the elastic regime. Taking into account results from residual lattice
strains also determined by neutron diffraction, the yield stress in the
finest Cu channels is in agreement with calculations based on a single
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