Probing the small-scale plasticity and phase stability of an icosahedral quasicrystal i-Al-Pd-Mn at elevated temperatures

C. Cheng; Y. Xiao; M. J. R. Haché; Z. Liu; J. M. Wheeler; Y. Zou

Physical Review Materials 5 (2021) 53602-53602

Quasicrystalline materials possess a unique structure that is ordered yet not periodic. Despite their special configuration and many useful properties, they are typically very brittle at temperatures below ∼75% of their melting points, rendering them difficult to process and often unsuitable for practical implementations. Micro-compression offers an opportunity to unveil the fundamental mechanisms of quasicrystal plasticity. Here, we study the mechanical behavior of a typical icosahedral quasicrystal (i-Al-Pd-Mn) using microthermomechanical techniques over a temperature in the range 25-500 °C. We observe a few interesting phenomena, including micropillar shrinkage, phase transformations, grain refinement, and thermally induced transitions in deformation behavior (from brittle fracture at room temperature to serrated plastic flows and then to homogeneous flows at elevated temperatures). Furthermore, we discuss the multiple underlying mechanisms on the mechanical behavior of the quasicrystal in this temperature regime, exploring surface evaporation/diffusion, diffusion-enhanced plasticity, dislocation activities, and grain boundary rotation/sliding. Our study bridges the gap between room-temperature and high-temperature plasticity in quasicrystals, demonstrating an opportunity to study complex intermetallic phases in broad size and temperature regimes.