Skip to main content

Microstructural evolution and mechanical properties of a 5052 Al alloy with gradient structures

  • Yusheng Li (a1), Lingzhen Li (a1), Jinfeng Nie (a1), Yang Cao (a1), Yonghao Zhao (a1) and Yuntian Zhu (a2)...
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.

In this paper, we report on the microstructural evolution and mechanical properties of a 5052 Al alloy processed by rotationally accelerated shot peening (RASP). A thick deformation layer of ∼2 mm was formed after the RASP process. Nano-sized grains, equiaxed subgrains, and elongated subgrains were observed along the depth of the deformation layer. Dislocation accumulation and dynamic recrystallization were found primarily responsible for the grain refinement process. An obvious microhardness gradient was observed for all of the samples with different RASP processing parameters, and the microhardness in the top surface of 50 m/s-5 min RASP-processed sample is twice that of its coarse-grained (CG) counterpart. The yield strengths of the RASP-processed 5052 Al alloy samples were 1.4–2.6 times that of CG counterparts, while retaining a decent ductility (25–84% that of CG). The superior properties imparted by the gradient structure are expected to expand the application of the 5052 Al alloy as a structural material.

Corresponding author
a) Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:
Hide All

Contributing Editor: Lei Lu

This section of Journal of Materials Research is reserved for papers that are reviews of literature in a given area.


This author was an editor of this journal during the review and decision stage. For the JMR policy on review and publication of manuscripts authored by editors, please refer to

A previous error in this article has been corrected. For details, see 10.1557/jmr.2017.459

Hide All
1. Liu, X.Y., Ohotnicky, P.P., Adams, J.B., Rohrer, C.L., and Hyland, R.W.: Anisotropic surface segregation in Al–Mg alloys. Surf. Sci. 373, 357 (1997).
2. Valiev, R.Z., Islamgaliev, R.K., and Alexandrov, I.V.: Bulk nanostructured materials from severe plastic deformation. Prog. Mater. Sci. 45, 103 (2000).
3. Valiev, R.Z., Alexandrov, I.V., Zhu, Y.T., and Lowe, T.C.: Paradox of strength and ductility in metals processed by severe plastic deformation. J. Mater. Res. 17, 5 (2002).
4. Valiev, R.Z., Estrin, Y., Horita, Z., Langdon, T.G., Zehetbauer, M.J., and Zhu, Y.T.: Fundamentals of superior properties in bulk nanoSPD materials. Mater. Res. Lett. 4, 1 (2016).
5. Tsuji, N., Saito, Y., Utsunomiya, H., and Tanigawa, S.: Ultra-fine grained bulk steel produced by accumulative roll-bonding (ARB) process. Scr. Mater. 40, 795 (1999).
6. Pirgazi, H., Akbarzadeh, A., Petrov, R., and Kestens, L.: Microstructure evolution and mechanical properties of AA1100 aluminum sheet processed by accumulative roll bonding. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 497, 132 (2008).
7. Zhu, Y.T. and Lowe, T.C.: Observations and issues on mechanisms of grain refinement during ECAP process. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 291, 46 (2000).
8. Furukawa, M., Horita, Z., Nemoto, M., and Langdon, T.G.: Review: Processing of metals by equal-channel angular pressing. J. Mater. Sci. 36, 2835 (2001).
9. Kawasaki, M., Horita, Z., and Langdon, T.G.: Microstructural evolution in high purity aluminum processed by ECAP. Acta Mater. 524, 143 (2009).
10. Zha, M., Li, Y.J., Mathiesen, R.H., Bjørge, R., and Roven, H.J.: Microstructure evolution and mechanical behavior of a binary Al–7Mg alloy processed by equal-channel angular pressing. Acta Mater. 84, 42 (2015).
11. Tsai, T.L., Sun, P.L., Kao, P.W., and Chang, C.P.: Microstructure and tensile properties of a commercial 5052 aluminum alloy processed by equal channel angular extrusion. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 342, 144 (2003).
12. Liu, M.P., Roven, H.J., Liu, X.T., Murashkin, M., Valiev, R.Z., Ungar, T., and Balogh, L.: Grain refinement in nanostructured Al–Mg alloys subjected to high pressure torsion. J. Mater. Sci. 45, 4659 (2010).
13. Cao, Y., Wang, Y.B., Figueiredo, R.B., Chang, L., Liao, X.Z., Kawasaki, M., Zheng, W.L., Ringer, S.P., Langdon, T.G., and Zhu, Y.T.: Three-dimensional shear-strain patterns induced by high-pressure torsion and their impact on hardness evolution. Acta Mater. 59, 3903 (2011).
14. Valiev, R.Z., Estrin, Y., Horita, Z., Langdon, T.G., Zehetbauer, M.J., and Zhu, Y.T.: Producing bulk ultrafine-grained materials by severe plastic deformation. JOM 58, 33 (2006).
15. Zhu, Y.T., Liao, X.Z., and Wu, X.L.: Deformation twinning in nanocrystalline materials. Prog. Mater. Sci. 57, 1 (2012).
16. Jian, W.W., Cheng, G.M., Xu, W.Z., Yuan, H., Tsai, M.H., Wang, Q.D., Koch, C.C., Zhu, Y.T., and Mathaudhu, S.N.: Ultrastrong Mg alloy via nano-spaced stacking faults. Mater. Res. Lett. 2, 61 (2013).
17. Loorentz and Ko, Y.G.: Effect of differential speed rolling strain on microstructure and mechanical properties of nanostructured 5052 Al alloy. J. Alloys Compd. 586, S205 (2014).
18. Gang, U.G., Lee, S.H., and Jono, W.: The evolution of microstructure and mechanical properties of a 5052 aluminium alloy by the application of cryogenic rolling and warm rolling. Mater. Trans. 50, 82 (2009).
19. Lee, Y.B., Shin, D.H., and Nam, W.J.: Effect of deformation temperature on the formation of ultrafine grains in the 5052 Al alloy. Met. Mater. Int. 10, 407 (2004).
20. Wang, B., Chen, X.H., Pan, F.S., Mao, J.J., and Fang, Y.: Effects of cold rolling and heat treatment on microstructure and mechanical properties of AA 5052 aluminum alloy. Trans. Nonferrous Met. Soc. China 25, 2481 (2015).
21. Sekhar, K.C., Narayanasamy, R., and Velmanirajan, K.: Experimental investigations on microstructure and formability of cryorolled AA 5052 sheets. Mater. Des. 53, 1064 (2014).
22. Shi, J.T., Hou, L.G., Ma, C.Q., Zuo, J.R., Cui, H., Zhuang, L.Z., and Zhang, J.S.: Mechanical properties and microstructures of 5052 Al alloy processed by asymmetric cryorolling. Mater. Sci. Forum 850, 823 (2016).
23. Chen, Y.C., Huang, Y.Y., Chang, C.P., and Kao, P.W.: The effect of extrusion temperature on the development of deformation microstructures in 5052 aluminum alloy processed by equal channel angular extrusion. Acta Mater. 51, 2005 (2003).
24. Zhu, Y.T. and Liao, X.Z.: Nanostructured metals: Retaining ductility. Nat. Mater. 3, 351 (2004).
25. Meyers, M.A., Mishra, A., and Benson, D.J.: Mechanical properties of nanocrystalline materials. Prog. Mater. Sci. 51, 427 (2006).
26. Lu, K.: Stabilizing nanostructures in metals using grain and twin boundary architectures. Nat. Rev. Mater. 1, 16019 (2016).
27. Fang, T.H., Li, W.L., Tao, N.R., and Lu, K.: Revealing extraordinary intrinsic tensile plasticity in gradient nano-grained copper. Science 331, 1587 (2011).
28. Wu, X.L., Jiang, P., Chen, L., Yuan, F.P., and Zhu, Y.T.: Extraordinary strain hardening by gradient structure. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 111, 7197 (2014).
29. Ma, E. and Zhu, T.: Towards strength–ductility synergy through the design of heterogeneous nanostructures in metals. Mater. Today (2017). Available at:
30. Wu, X.L., Jiang, P., Chen, L., and Zhu, Y.T.: Synergetic strengthening by gradient structure. Mater. Res. Lett. 2, 185 (2014).
31. Lu, K. and Lu, J.: Surface nanocrystallization (SNC) of metallic materials-presentation of the concept behind a new approach. J. Mater. Sci. Technol. 15, 193 (1999).
32. Lu, K. and Lu, J.: Nanostructured surface layer on metallic materials induced by SMAT. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 375–377, 38 (2004).
33. Li, W.L., Tao, N.R., and Lu, K.: Fabrication of a gradient nano-micro-structured surface layer on bulk copper by means of a surface mechanical grinding treatment. Scr. Mater. 59, 546 (2008).
34. Liu, X.C., Zhang, H.W., and Lu, K.: Strain-induced ultrahard and ultrastable nanolaminated structure in nickel. Science 342, 337 (2014).
35. Wang, X., Li, Y.S., Zhang, Q., Zhao, Y.H., and Zhu, Y.T.: Gradient structured copper by rotationally accelerated shot peening. J. Mater. Sci. Technol. 33, 758 (2017).
36. Horita, Z., Smith, D.J., Nemoto, M., Valiev, R.Z., and Langdon, T.G.: Observations of grain boundary structure in submicrometer-grained Cu and Ni using high-resolution electron microscopy. J. Mater. Res. 13, 446 (1998).
37. Oh-ishi, K., Horita, Z., Smith, D.J., and Langdon, T.G.: Grain boundary structure in Al–Mg and Al–Mg–Sc alloys after equal-channel angular pressing. J. Mater. Res. 16, 583 (2001).
38. Cao, Y., Wang, Y.B., An, X.H., Liao, X.Z., Kawasaki, M., Ringer, S.P., Langdon, T.G., and Zhu, Y.T.: Concurrent microstructural evolution of ferrite and austenite in a duplex stainless steel processed by high-pressure torsion. Acta Mater. 63, 16 (2014).
39. Park, K.T. and Shin, D.H.: Microstructural interpretation of negligible strain-hardening behavior of submicrometer-grained low-carbon steel during tensile deformation. Metall. Mater. Trans. A 33, 705 (2002).
40. Zhu, Y.T., Huang, J.Y., Gubicza, J., Ungar, T., Wang, Y.M., Ma, E., and Valiev, R.Z.: Nanostructures in Ti processed by severe plastic deformation. J. Mater. Res. 18, 1908 (2003).
41. Song, H.R., Kim, Y.S., and Nam, W.J.: Mechanical properties of ultrafine grained 5052 Al alloy produced by accumulative roll-bonding and cryogenic rolling. Met. Mater. Int. 12, 7 (2006).
42. Mishra, A., Kad, B.K., Gregori, F., and Meyers, M.A.: Microstructural evolution in copper subjected to severe plastic deformation: Experiments and analysis. Acta Mater. 55, 13 (2007).
43. Li, Y.S., Tao, N.R., and Lu, K.: Microstructural evolution and nanostructure formation in copper during dynamic plastic deformation at cryogenic temperatures. Acta Mater. 56, 230 (2008).
44. Sun, H.Q., Shi, Y.N., Zhang, M.X., and Lu, K.: Plastic strain-induced grain refinement in the nanometer scale in a Mg alloy. Acta Mater. 55, 975 (2007).
45. Chang, H.W., Kelly, P.M., Shi, Y.N., and Zhang, M.X.: Effect of eutectic Si on surface nanocrystallization of Al–Si alloys by surface mechanical attrition treatment. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 530, 304 (2011).
46. Yang, M.X., Pan, Y., Yuan, F.P., Zhu, Y.T., and Wu, X.L.: Back stress strengthening and strain hardening in gradient structure. Mater. Res. Lett. 4, 145 (2016).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Materials Research
  • ISSN: 0884-2914
  • EISSN: 2044-5326
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-materials-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

A correction has been issued for this article: