Unraveling the Effects of Process Control Agents on Mechanical Alloying of Nanostructured Cu-Fe Alloy

Document Type : Research Paper


School of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, P.O. Box 11155-4563, Tehran, Iran


Nanostructured Cu-20Fe alloy was synthesized by mechanical alloying process and the effects of process control agents (PCA) on the phase formation, crystallite refinement and morphology of powder particles were studied. The dissolution of Fe into Cu matrix and the morphology of powder particles were analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) technique and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), respectively. The mean crystallite size was approximated by the method developed by Williamson and Hall. It was found that in the absence of PCA (Toluene in the present work), the iron peaks vanish after 5 h of mechanical alloying process and the mean crystallite size of the matrix decreases to 35 nm and large agglomerated particles are formed during milling. In this regard, it was found that the addition of PCA decreases the rate of crystallite refinement and formation of solid solution but does not affect the final mean crystallite size. It was also found that the addition of PCA during milling decreases the powder particle size considerably and by preventing agglomeration can lead to a finer powder particle size compared with the initial unmilled powders. It was also revealed that the effect of PCA on particle size is much greater than the effect of milling time.


1. Suryanarayana C. Mechanical alloying and milling. Progress in materials science. 2001;46(1):1-84.
2. Enayati MH, Mohamed FA. Application of mechanical alloying/milling for synthesis of nanocrystalline and amorphous materials. International Materials Reviews. 2014;59(7):394-416.
3. Ma E. Alloys created between immiscible elements. Progress in materials science. 2005;50(4):413-509.
4. Shingu PH, Ishihara KN. Non-equilibrium materials by mechanical alloying (overview). Materials transactions, JIM. 1995;36(2):96-101.
5. Baláž P, Achimovičová M, Baláž M, Billik P, Cherkezova-Zheleva Z, Criado JM, Delogu F, Dutková E, Gaffet E, Gotor FJ, Kumar R. Hallmarks of mechanochemistry: from nanoparticles to technology. Chemical Society Reviews. 2013;42(18):7571-637.
6. Pilar M, Sunol JJ, Bonastre J, Escoda L. Influence of process control agents in the development of a metastable Fe–Zr based alloy. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids. 2007;353(8):848-50.
7. Machio C, Chikwanda H, Chikosha S. Effect of process control agent (PCA) on the characteristics of mechanically alloyed Ti-Mg powders. Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 2011;111:149-153.
8. Sheibani S, Ataie A, Heshmati-Manesh S. Role of process control agent on synthesis and consolidation behavior of nano-crystalline copper produced by mechano-chemical route. Journal of Alloys and Compounds. 2008;465(1):78-82.
9. Shaw L, Villegas J, Luo H, Zawrah M, Miracle D. Effects of process-control agents on mechanical alloying of nanostructured aluminum alloys. Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A. 2003;34(1):159-70.
10. Lu L, Zhang YF. Influence of process control agent on interdiffusion between Al and Mg during mechanical alloying. Journal of Alloys and Compounds. 1999;290(1):279-83.
11. Nouri A, Hodgson PD, Wen CE. Effect of process control agent on the porous structure and mechanical properties of a biomedical Ti–Sn–Nb alloy produced by powder metallurgy. Acta biomaterialia. 2010;6(4):1630-9.
12. Canakci A, Ozsahin S, Varol T. Modeling the influence of a process control agent on the properties of metal matrix composite powders using artificial neural networks. Powder technology. 2012;228:26-35.
13. Canakci A, Varol T, Ozsahin S. Analysis of the effect of a new process control agent technique on the mechanical milling process using a neural network model: measurement and modeling. Measurement. 2013;46(6):1818-27.
14. Eckert J, Holzer JC, Johnson WL. Thermal stability and grain growth behavior of mechanically alloyed nanocrystalline Fe‐Cu alloys. Journal of applied physics. 1993;73(1):131-41.
15. Vishlaghi MB, Ataie A. Investigation on solid solubility and physical properties of Cu–Fe/CNT nano-composite prepared via mechanical alloying route. Powder Technology. 2014;268:102-9.
16. Contini A, Delogu F, Garroni S, Mulas G, Enzo S. Kinetics behaviour of metastable equiatomic Cu–Fe solid solution as function of the number of collisions induced by mechanical alloying. Journal of Alloys and Compounds. 2014;615:551-4.
17. El-Eskandarany MS. Mechanical Alloying: Nanotechnology, Materials Science and Powder Metallurgy. Elsevier; 2015.
18. Koch CC. Structural nanocrystalline materials: an overview. Journal of Materials Science. 2007;42(5):1403-14.
19. Mirzadeh H, Zomorodian A. Ball milling criteria for producing nano intermetallic compounds. Materials Science and Technology. 2010;26(3):281-4.