On the relationship between microstructure, strength and toughness in AA7050 aluminum alloy

D. Dumont, A. Deschamps, Y. Brechet

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320 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of process parameters such as quench rate and precipitation heat treatment on the compromise between the toughness and the yield strength of AA7050 aluminum alloy (AIZnMgCu) are investigated, as well as the anisotropy of this compromise in the rolling plane. Fracture toughness is experimentally approached by the Kahn tear test. The microstructure is studied quantitatively in detail by a combination of scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering, and the relative fractions of the various fracture modes as a function of microstructural state are quantitatively determined on scanning electron microscopy images. Toughness is confirmed to be minimum at peak strength, and lower for an overaged material than for an underaged material of the same yield strength. A lower quench rate is shown to result in an overall reduction of toughness, and in a reduced evolution of this toughness during the aging heat treatment. The overall toughness is also lowered when the main crack propagation direction is parallel to the preferential elongation direction of the coarse constituent particles (rolling direction). The competition between intergranular and transgranular fracture is explained in terms of the modifications of the work hardening rate, and of grain boundary precipitation. The evolution of fracture toughness is qualitatively explained in terms of evolution of yield stress, strain hardening rate, grain boundary precipitation and intragranular quench-induced precipitates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A: Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructure and Processing
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Al-Zn-Mg-Cu
  • Aluminum alloy
  • Fracture toughness
  • Kahn tear test
  • Precipitation
  • Strain hardening
  • Yield strength

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