skip to main content

Title: Nanoscale precipitates as sustainable dislocation sources for enhanced ductility and high strength
Traditionally, precipitates in a material are thought to serve as obstacles to dislocation glide and cause hardening of the material. This conventional wisdom, however, fails to explain recent discoveries of ultrahigh-strength and large-ductility materials with a high density of nanoscale precipitates, as obstacles to dislocation glide often lead to high stress concentration and even microcracks, a cause of progressive strain localization and the origin of the strength–ductility conflict. Here we reveal that nanoprecipitates provide a unique type of sustainable dislocation sources at sufficiently high stress, and that a dense dispersion of nanoprecipitates simultaneously serve as dislocation sources and obstacles, leading to a sustainable and self-hardening deformation mechanism for enhanced ductility and high strength. The condition to achieve sustainable dislocation nucleation from a nanoprecipitate is governed by the lattice mismatch between the precipitate and matrix, with stress comparable to the recently reported high strength in metals with large amount of nanoscale precipitates. It is also shown that the combination of Orowan’s precipitate hardening model and our critical condition for dislocation nucleation at a nanoprecipitate immediately provides a criterion to select precipitate size and spacing in material design. The findings reported here thus may help establish a foundation for strength–ductility optimization through more » densely dispersed nanoprecipitates in multiple-element alloy systems. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5204 to 5209
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Forming operations are known to be complex, involving many strain states, strain rates, temperatures, strain paths, and friction conditions. Material properties, such as strength and ductility, are large drivers in determining if a material can be formed into a specific part, and for selecting the equipment required for the forming operation. Predicting yielding behavior in situations such as these has been done using yield surfaces to describe material yielding in specific stress states. These models typically use initial mechanical properties, and will require correction if the material has experienced previous straining. Here, we performed interrupted uniaxial tensile testing of amore »304 stainless steel to observe the effects of unloading and subsequent reloading on yielding and tensile properties. An increase in yield point developed, in which a higher yield was observed prior to returning to the bulk work hardening behavior, and the magnitude of the yield point varied with unloading conditions and strain imposed. The appearance of a yield point is attributed to strain aging or dislocation trapping at obstacles within the matrix. These results suggest that both strain aging and dislocation trapping mechanisms may be active in the matrix, which may present challenges when forming austenitic stainless and new advanced high strength steels that likely show a similar behavior. These results provide a potential area for refinement in the calculation of yielding criteria that are currently used to predict forming behavior.« less
  2. Abstract

    Precipitation strengthening of alloys by the formation of secondary particles (precipitates) in the matrix is one of the techniques used for increasing the mechanical strength of metals. Understanding the precipitation kinetics such as nucleation, growth, and coarsening of these precipitates is critical for evaluating their hardening effects and improving the yield strength of the alloy during heat treatment. To optimize the heat treatment strategy and accelerate alloy design, predicting precipitate hardening effects via numerical methods is a promising complement to trial-and-error-based experiments and the physics-based phase-field method stands out with the significant potential to accurately predict the precipitate morphologymore »and kinetics. In this study, we present a phase-field model that captures the nucleation, growth, and coarsening kinetics of precipitates during isothermal heat treatment conditions. Thermodynamic data, diffusion coefficients, and misfit strain data from experimental or lower length-scale calculations are used as input parameters for the phase-field model. Classical nucleation theory is implemented to capture the nucleation kinetics. As a case study, we apply the model to investigate γ″ precipitation kinetics in Inconel 625. The simulated mean particle length, aspect ratio, and volume fraction evolution are in agreement with experimental data for simulations at 600 °C and 650 °C during isothermal heat treatment. Utilizing the meso-scale results from the phase-field simulations as input parameters to a macro-scale coherency strengthening model, the evolution of the yield strength during heat treatment was predicted. In a broader context, we believe the current study can provide practical guidance for applying the phase-field approach as a link in the multiscale modeling of material properties.

    « less
  3. Continuous bending under tension (CBT) is known to achieve elongation-to-failure well above that achieved under a conventional uniaxial simple tension (ST) strain path. However, the detailed mechanism for supplying this increased ductility has not been fully understood. It is clear that the necking that occurs in a typical ST specimen is avoided by constantly moving the region of plastic deformation during the CBT process. The volume of material in which the flow stress is greatest is limited to a moving line where the rollers contact the sheet and superimpose bending stress on the applied tensile load. Hence the condition ofmore »a large volume of material experiencing stress greater than the material flow stress, leading to strain localization during ST, is avoided. However, the magnitude of the contribution of this phenomenon to the overall increase in elongation is unclear. In the current set of experiments, an elongation to fracture (ETF) of 4.56x and 3.7x higher than ST was achieved by fine-tuning CBT forming parameters for Q&P 1180 and TBF 1180, respectively. A comparison of maximum local strains near the final point of fracture in ST and CBT sheets via digital image correlation revealed that avoidance of localization of plastic strain during CBT accounts for less than half of the increased elongation in the CBT specimens for two steels containing different amounts of retained austenite (RA). Geometrically necessary dislocation evolution is monitored using high-resolution EBSD (HREBSD) for both strain paths, indicating a lower hardening rate in the CBT samples in the bulk of the sheet, potentially relating to the cyclical nature of the stress in the outer layers of the sheet. Interestingly, the GND evolution in the center of the sheet, which does not experience the same amplitude of cyclic stress, follows the ST behavior more closely than the sheet edges. This appears to contribute to a precipitous drop in residual ductility for the specimens that are pulled in ST after partial CBT processing. The rate of transformation of RA is also tracked in the steels, with a significantly lower rate of transformation during CBT, compared to ST. This suggests that a slower transformation rate achieved under CBT also contributed to higher strain-to-failure levels.« less
  4. High-entropy alloys (HEAs) with good ductility and high strength are usually prepared by a combination of forging and heat-treatment processes. In comparison, the as-cast HEAs typically do not reach strengths similar to those of HEAs produced by the forging and heat-treatment processes. Here we report a novel equiatomic-ratio CoCrCuMnNi HEA prepared by vacuum arc melting. We observe that this HEA has excellent mechanical properties, i.e. , a yield strength of 458 MPa, and an ultimate tensile strength of 742 MPa with an elongation of 40%. Many nanometer precipitates (5–50 nm in size) and domains (5–10 nm in size) are foundmore »in the inter-dendrite and dendrite zones of the produced HEA, which is the key factor for its excellent mechanical properties. The enthalpy of mixing between Cu and Mn, Cr, Co, or Ni is higher than those of mixing between any two of Cr, Co, Ni and Mn, which leads to the separation of Cu from the CoCrCuMnNi HEA. Furthermore, we reveal the nanoscale-precipitate-phase-forming mechanism in the proposed HEA.« less
  5. Abstract Lightweight, recyclable, and plentiful Mg alloys are receiving increased attention due to an exceptional combination of strength and ductility not possible from pure Mg. Yet, due to their alloying elements, such as rare-earths or aluminum, they are either not economical or biocompatible. Here we present a new rare-earth and aluminum-free magnesium-based alloy, with trace amounts of Zn, Ca, and Mn (≈ 2% by wt.). We show that the dilute alloy exhibits outstanding high strength and high ductility compared to other dilute Mg alloys. By direct comparison with annealed material of the same chemistry and using transmission electron microscopy (TEM),more »high-resolution TEM (HR-TEM) and atom probe tomography analyses, we show that the high strength can be attributed to a number of very fine, Zn/Ca-containing nanoscale precipitates, along with ultra-fine grains. These findings show that forming a hierarchy of nanometer precipitates from just miniscule amounts of solute can invoke simultaneous high strength and ductility, producing an affordable, biocompatible Mg alloy.« less