Formation of eta carbide in ferrous martensite by room temperature aging

Lu, W. and Herbig, M. and Liebscher, C.H. and Morsdorf, L. and Marceau, R.K.W. and Dehm, G. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 158 Pages: 297-312
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2018.07.071
Published: 2018

For several decades, the formation of carbon(C)-rich domains upon room temperature aging of supersaturated martensite has been a matter of debate. C-rich tweed-like patterns are observed to form after short aging times at room temperature and coarsen upon further aging. Here, we present a systematic atomic-scale investigation of carbide formation in Fe-15Ni-1C (wt.%) martensite after two to three years of isothermal room temperature aging by a combination of atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy. Owing to the sub-zero martensite start temperature of −25 °C, a fully austenitic microstructure is maintained at room temperature and the martensitic phase transformation is initiated during quenching in liquid nitrogen. In this way, any diffusion and redistribution of C in martensite is suppressed until heating up the specimen and holding it at room temperature. The microstructural changes that accompany the rearrangement of C atoms have been systematically investigated under controlled isothermal conditions. Our results show that after prolonged room temperature aging nanometer-sized, plate-shaped η-Fe2C carbides form with a macroscopic martensite habit plane close to {521}. The orientation relationship between the η-Fe2C carbides and the parent martensite grain (α′) follows [001]α’//[001]η, (1¯10) α’//(020)η. The observation of η-Fe2C–carbide formation at room temperature is particularly interesting, as transition carbides have so far only been reported to form above 100 °C. After three years of room temperature aging a depletion of Fe is observed in the η carbide while Ni remains distributed homogenously. This implies that the substitutional element Fe can diffuse several nanometers in martensite at room temperature within three years. © 2018

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