The elastic strain energy of coherent ellipsoidal precipitates in anisotropic crystalline solids

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The elastic strain energy of coherent ellipsoidal precipitates (ellipsoids of revolution) in anisotropic crystalline solids has been calculated as a function of ellipsoid aspect ratio using the method of Eshelby. When the precipitate is either much softer or harder, elastically, than the matrix, the results are similar to those previously obtained using isotropic elasticity. When this condition is not met, however, anisotropic elasticity can yield quite different results which vary markedly with the orientation relationship between precipitate and matrix. When the precipitate has a non-cubic crystal structure, the elastic strain energy often passes through a maximum or a minimum at shapes which are neither thin discs nor spheres. During this study, the isotropic elasticity result that the strain energy associated with a disc-shaped precipitate is independent of the matrix elastic constants was also shown to hold under the conditions of anisotropic elasticity, and in such circumstances it depends only on the elastic properties of the precipitate in the direction of the principal directions of the disc. Incorporation of the anisotropic elastic strain energy into the calculation of ΔG *, the free energy of activation for the formation of a critical nucleus for the basic case of homogeneous nucleation with boundary-orientation independent interfacial energy, showed that the ratio of the strain energy to the volume free energy change must usually be somewhat larger than 3/4 in order to cause the shape of the critical nucleus to differ from that of a sphere.

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Metallurgical Transactions A