Spinodal decomposition for high-entropy soft magnetic alloys design
In this project, we work on a generic solution to design advanced high-entropy alloys (HEAs) with enhanced magnetic properties. By overturning the concept of stabilizing solid solutions in HEAs, we propose to render the massive solid solutions metastable and trigger spinodal decomposition. The motivation for starting from the HEA for this approach is to provide the chemical degrees of freedom required to tailor spinodal behaviour using multiple components.
Since its first emergence in 2004, the HEA concept has aimed at stabilizing single- or dual-phase multi-element solid solutions through high mixing entropy. Here, we change this strategy and render such massive solid solutions metastable, to trigger spinodal decomposition for improving the alloys’ magnetic properties. The motivation for starting from a HEA for this approach is to provide the chemical degrees of freedom required to tailor spinodal behavior using multiple components. The key idea is to form Fe-Co enriched regions which have an expanded volume (relative to unconstrained Fe-Co), due to coherency constraints imposed by the surrounding HEA matrix. As demonstrated by theory and experiments, this leads to improved magnetic properties of the decomposed alloy relative to the original solid solution matrix. In a prototype magnetic FeCoNiMnCu HEA, we show that the modulated structures, achieved by spinodal decomposition, lead to an increase of the Curie temperature by 48% and a simultaneous increase of magnetization by 70% at ambient temperature as compared to the homogenized single-phase reference alloy.