It has been discovered quite recently that Icosahedral Short-Range Order (ISRO) of atoms in the liquid phase of metallic alloys surrounding some trace elements added to the melt can influence both the nucleation and growth of the primary phase. In this work, Al-20wt.%Zn alloys without and with 0.1 wt.% Cr additions have been processed using a free-falling droplet technique. This technique allows to undercool the liquid droplet during its fall and thus to have rapid directional solidification conditions when it collides a copper-cooled substrate. Under such rapid solidification conditions, microstructural and EBSD analyses have shown that, under such rapid solidification conditions, Cr addition is responsible for the nucleation and growth of feathery grains (or twinned dendrites). This morphology specific to aluminum alloys has been discovered more than seventy years ago without a clear identification of its origin. The angular analysis between twinned dendrites indicates a behavior similar to those of the propagation of topological defects, through an ISRO-induced stacking fault mechanism.
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