Three-Dimensional Characterization of SiC Particle-Reinforced Al Composites Using Serial Sectioning Tomography and Thermo-mechanical Finite Element Simulation
In this study, a serial sectioning technique was employed in order to visualize the three-dimensional (3D) structure, and to accurately simulate the mechanical and thermal behaviors of SiC particle-reinforced Al composites. Sequential, two-dimensional (2D) optical images of the microstructure were acquired after polishing, and then reconstructed to develop 3D geometries for microstructural analyses and finite element modeling. Experimental compressive and thermal expansion tests were performed for comparison with the finite element method results. The Young's modulus and thermal expansion coefficient of the composite, predicted using the 3D microstructure-based finite element analyses, were in good agreement with the experimental results. Furthermore, the 3D microstructure-based finite element model showed anisotropic thermal expansion behavior that was previously disregarded in the other models used in this study. Therefore, it was confirmed that the combined approach of serial sectioning and finite element modeling provides a significant improvement over 2D and 3D unit-cell modeling.