Irradiation-induced selective precipitation in Cu-Nb-W alloys: An approach towards coarsening resistance

Xuan Zhang, Jianguo Wen, Pascal Bellon, Robert S. Averback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel approach towards coarsening resistance in the precipitate- strengthened Cu-based alloys is proposed, taking advantage of selective precipitation during low-temperature ion irradiation. In the case of Cu-Nb-W, W precipitates during room temperature irradiation, forming highly ramified clusters. During subsequent thermal annealing of alloys with composition close to Cu90Nb9W1, the more mobile Nb atoms precipitate out on the W clusters, creating a core-shell structure and adopting the Bain orientation relationship within the Cu matrix. This structure is extremely resistant to coarsening. Annealing at 650 °C for 1 h results in a precipitates size <4 nm in diameter, and annealing for an additional 9 h causes no additional growth, even though Nb is highly mobile at this temperature and would coarsen in the absence of W. We attribute the remarkable stability of this precipitate structure to the strong immiscibility of W in Cu and to the highly ramified precipitate structure that W acquires during low-temperature irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2004-2015
Number of pages12
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Copper alloys
  • Fractal
  • High-angle annular dark field (HAADF)
  • Ion irradiation
  • Precipitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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