The phase distribution in an Al-SiC composite has been investigated using high resolution analytical electron microscopy. Particular attention was focused on Al-SiC interfaces, matrix boundaries and impurity phases which would impede the easy glide of dislocations. Small crystallites of MgO were distributed singly and in clusters along Al-SiC interfaces in all specimens. Interfacial segregation and precipitation involving alloy species apparently affected precipitation in the matrix, where the distribution of phases was found to be very heterogeneous. Matrix phases also included unusually large constituent particles and dispersoids, a consequence of the composite processing methods. The relationship between the observed microstructure and the composite mechanical behavior reported by others is discussed. The heterogeneous distribution of matrix phases is expected to result in a wide variation in local yield stress and local work-hardening rate within the composite.
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