SEM and EBSD Analysis of the Grain Structure After ECAP Process of the Aluminum Material

The excellent casting properties of aluminum in combination with easy availability make aluminum one of the most widely used metals in the world. The combination of lightweight and excellent mechanical properties makes aluminum an ideal material for automotive and aeronautical applications as well as more basic uses. Aluminum has very good shaping properties, for example for rolling manufacturing. It is widely used in the food industry as a packaging material and in the building industry for the manufacturing of windows and doors. To enhance its material properties, aluminum can be tempered or alloyed by the addition of copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, or silicon. Another approach is to modify the microstructure by applying one of the processes that induce internal strain such as extrusion, rolling, ECAP, and others.

Equal channel angular pressing (ECAP) is a method using the principle of severe plastic deformation. The bulk material is extruded to create an ultra-fine grain structure. ECAP is a metal forming process that refines grain structure to submicron or to nano grain scale and implements the high strain and superplasticity to the material. The material processed using the ECAP method shows an improvement in mechanical properties.

ECAP is usually done in multiple steps and it is crucial to track the grain size and the morphology after a certain number of ECAP steps. Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) gives crystallographic information about the sample’s microstructure. This method uses the specific signal in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) which is detected by a dedicated EBSD detector. This technique not only provides grain size information; the detected diffraction pattern also enables determination of the phase, crystal orientation, grain morphology, and boundaries. Therefore, this SEM-based technique is ideal and widely used in many applications and fields from standard metal research and geology to the industrial research in fields of nuclear, automotive, aerospace research, and many others.

Channeling contrast of the sample treated by 8 steps of ECAP.

Figure 1. Channeling contrast of the sample treated by 8 steps of ECAP.

Channeling contrast combined with the sample surface topography information of the sample treated by 8 steps of ECAP.

Figure 2. Channeling contrast combined with the sample surface topography information of the sample treated by 8 steps of ECAP.

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TESCAN USA Inc.

Founded in 1991 by a group of managers and engineers from Tesla with its electron microscopy history starting in the 1950’s, today TESCAN is a globally renowned supplier of Focused Ion Beam workstations, Scanning Electron Microscopes and Optical Microscopes.  TESCAN’s innovative solutions and collaborative nature with its customers have won it a leading position in the world of nano- and microtechnology.  The company is proud to participate in premier research projects with prominent institutions across a range of scientific fields.  TESCAN provides its clients with leading-class products in terms of value, quality and reliability.  TESCAN USA Inc. is the North American arm of TESCAN ORSAY HOLDINGS, a multinational company established by the merger of Czech company TESCAN, a leading global supplier of SEMs and Focused Ion Beam workstations, and the French company ORSAY PHYSICS, a world leader in customized Focused Ion Beam and Electron Beam technology.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TESCAN.

For more information on this source, please visit Tescan.com.

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