Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Donald E. Mikkola


Attempts to strengthen a chromium-modified titanium trialuminide by a combination of grain size refinement and dispersoid strengthening led to a new means to synthesize such materials. This Reactive Mechanical Alloying/Milling process uses in situ reactions between the metallic powders and elements from a process control agent and/or a gaseous environment to assemble a dispersed small hard particle phase within the matrix by a bottom-up approach. In the current research milled powders of the trialuminide alloy along with titanium carbide were produced. The amount of the carbide can be varied widely with simple processing changes and in this case the milling process created trialuminide grain sizes and carbide particles that are the smallest known from such a process. Characterization of these materials required the development of x-ray diffraction means to determine particle sizes by deconvoluting and synthesizing components of the complex multiphase diffraction patterns and to carry out whole pattern analysis to analyze the diffuse scattering that developed from larger than usual highly defective grain boundary regions. These identified regions provide an important mass transport capability in the processing and not only facilitate the alloy development, but add to the understanding of the mechanical alloying process. Consolidation of the milled powder that consisted of small crystallites of the alloy and dispersed carbide particles two nanometers in size formed a unique, somewhat coarsened, microstructure producing an ultra-high strength solid material composed of the chromium-modified titanium trialuminide alloy matrix with small platelets of the complex carbides Ti2AlC and Ti3AlC2. This synthesis process provides the unique ability to nano-engineer a wide variety of composite materials, or special alloys, and has shown the ability to be extended to a wide variety of metallic materials.