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This chapter introduces many of the key concepts on which metallurgy is based. It begins with an overview of the atomic nature of matter and the forces that link atoms together in crystal lattice structures. It discusses the types of imperfections (or defects) that occur in the crystal structure of metals and their role in mechanical deformation, annealing, precipitation, and diffusion. It describes the concept of solid solutions and the effect of temperature on solubility and phase transformations. The chapter also discusses the formation of solidification structures, the use of equilibrium phase diagrams, the role of enthalpy and Gibb’s free energy in chemical reactions, and a method for determining phase compositions along the solidus and liquidus lines.

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