Misfit stabilized embedded nanoparticles in metallic alloys
Nanoscale inhomogeneities are typical for numerous metallic alloys and crucially important for their practical applications. At the same time, stabilization mechanisms of such a state are poorly understood. We present a general overview of the problem, together with a more detailed discussion of the prototype example, namely, Guinier–Preston zones in Al-based alloys. It is shown that coherent strain due to a misfit between inclusion and host crystal lattices plays a decisive role in the emergence of the inhomogeneous state. We suggest a model explaining the formation of ultrathin plates (with the thickness of a few lattice constants) typical for Al–Cu alloys. Discreteness of the array of misfit dislocations and long-ranged elastic interactions between them are the key ingredients of the model. This opens a way for a general understanding of the nature of (meta)stable embedded nanoparticles in practically important systems.