On the mechanism of extraordinary strain hardening in an interstitial high-entropy alloy under cryogenic conditions

Wang, Z. and Lu, W. and Raabe, D. and Li, Z.

Volume: Pages: 734-743
DOI: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2018.12.061
Published: 2019

We investigate the cryogenic deformation response and underlying mechanisms of a carbon-doped interstitial high-entropy alloy (iHEA) with a nominal composition of Fe49.5Mn30Co10Cr10C0.5 (at. %). Extraordinary strain hardening of the iHEA at 77 K leads to a substantial increase in ultimate tensile strength (∼1300 MPa) with excellent ductility (∼50%) compared to that at room temperature. Prior to loading, iHEAs with coarse (∼100 μm) and fine (∼6 μm) grain sizes show nearly single face-centered cubic (FCC) structure, while the fraction of hexagonal close-packed (HCP) phase reaches up to ∼70% in the cryogenically tensile-fractured iHEAs. Such an unusually high fraction of deformation-induced phase transformation and the associated plasticity (TRIP effect) is caused by the strong driving force supported by the reduced stacking fault energy and increased flow stress at 77 K. The transformation mechanism from the FCC matrix to the HCP phase is revealed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations. In addition to the deformation-induced phase transformation, stacking faults and dislocation slip contribute to the deformation of the FCC matrix phase at low strains and of the HCP phase at medium and large strains, suggesting dynamic strain partitioning among these two phases. The combination of TRIP and dynamic strain partitioning explain the striking strain hardening capability and resulting excellent combination of strength and ductility of iHEAs under cryogenic conditions. The current investigation thus offers guidance for the design of high-performance HEAs for cryogenic applications. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

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