University of Kentucky Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and William T. Bryan Professor of Materials Engineering John Balk was recently awarded a three-year, $835,000 Department of Energy EPSCoR grant, which includes a collaboration with scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The overarching goal of this project is an improved understanding of processing-structure-property links in multi-principal element alloy (MPEA) materials, specifically the effects of alloy composition on mechanical behavior, with a focus on ductility. Fundamental understanding will be built on the combined experimental-computational efforts in this project, which will ideally serve as models for other MPEA systems.
MPEAs represent a rapidly growing area of alloy research, with reports of novel materials exhibiting greatly improved properties, especially regarding mechanical behavior. MPEAs are also known as “high-entropy alloys” or “compositionally complex alloys”, and a generally accepted requirement is that they contain five or more alloying elements. This leads to a broad spectrum of possible microstructures and properties. Systematic evaluations of certain MPEA systems have been performed, and have yielded promising MPEAs. However, understanding how deviations from stoichiometric compositions influence certain mechanical properties has been hindered by the experimental difficulty of producing and studying sufficiently wide alloy variations in a systematic and feasible manner.