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INVESTIGATION OF MECHANICAL PROPERTIES AND DEVELOPMENT OF NANO STRUCTURE Cu-Zr ALLOYS

An alloy is a mixture composed of two or more elements. Alloys usually have different properties from those of the component elements. Generally they exhibit better properties than the composite elements. Copper is extensively used as a composite metal in alloy preparation. Various other metals can be added to copper due to its versatile nature in order to improve the mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. Copper Zirconium (Cu-Zr) is one of the widely used alloy among the copper alloys. It is an excellent and unique copper alloy showing high electrical conductivity, hardness, ductility, strength and toughness. The Cu-Zr alloys also demonstrate the capability of having nano structures with high solute contents obtainable by the mechanical alloying process. In the present work, Cu-Zr alloys have been developed by the mechanical alloying process. Pure copper and zirconium powders are blended into various compositions say 99-1, 96-4 and 90-10 wt% respectively. These mixtures are milled in a planetary ball mill for different milling times of 6, 12 and 36 hours respectively. Ball mill velocity is considered to be 200 and 300 rpm and ball to powder weight ratio is 10:1. Ethanol is used as a process control agent (PCA). The milling atmosphere is protected by argon gas to prevent the oxidation of powders. The milled powders are analysed by XRD technique to calculate the lattice parameters, crystal sizes, atomic arrangement, imperfections and internal strains and SEM technique to investigate crystalline structure, particle size characteristics and orientation of composite materials. The blended mixtures are compacted by isostatic powder compaction technique using high pressure. The mixtures are sintered into required shapes using moulds say balls, pellets, etc. The various mechanical properties like hardness, toughness, strength and flexural strength are investigated on the specimens using Vickers hardness tester, impact tester, universal testing machine and flexural bend tester respectively. The results showed that the lattice parameter of copper increased with increasing milled time. The microstructure of milled powder particles became finer at longer milling time towards nano-scale structure. SEM observations showed that average size of powder particles increased initially and reached a maximum value then it decreased at longer milling times. As expected the hardness, toughness, strength and flexural strength increased with increasing zirconium wt% when compared to pure copper powder. The universal testing machine observations are analysed w.r.t. the stress-strain graph of the specimens. Different zirconium contents had interesting effects on the behaviour of powder mixtures during milling.