The impact of grain-scale strain localization on strain hardening of a high-Mn steel: Real-time tracking of the transition from the γ → ε → α’ transformation to twinning

Souza Filho, I.R. and Dutta, A. and Almeida Junior, D.R. and Lu, W. and Sandim, M.J.R. and Ponge, D. and Sandim, H.R.Z. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 197 Pages: 123-136
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2020.07.038
Published: 2020

Strain partitioning and localization were investigated in a high-Mn steel (17.1 wt.% Mn) during tensile testing by a correlative probing approach including in-situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction, micro- digital image correlation (μ-DIC) and electron microscopy. By combining Warren's theory with the μ-DIC analysis, we monitored the formation of planar faults (stacking faults and mechanical twins) and correlated them with the local strain partitioning behavior within the microstructure. Starting with an initial microstructure of austenite (γ) and athermally formed ε- and α’-martensite, strain accumulates preferentially near the γ/ε interfaces during tensile straining. The local microscopic von Mises strain (εvM) maps obtained from μ-DIC probing show that these local strain gradients produce local strain peaks approximately twice as high as the imposed macroscopic engineering strain (ε), thus locally triggering formation of ε-martensite already at early yielding. The interior of the remaining austenite, without such interfacial strain peaks, remained nearly devoid of planar faults. The local strain-driven growth of the ε-domains occurs concomitantly with the α’-martensite formation. At intermediate macroscopic applied strains, austenite grain size is considerably reduced to a few nanometers and the associated γ/ε interfacial microscopic strain peaks increase in magnitude. This scenario favors twinning to emerge as a competing strain hardening mechanism at engineering strain levels from ε = 0.075 onwards. At large tensile strains, the γ → ε → α’ transformation rates tend to cease making both twinning and SFs formation to operate as the main strain hardening mechanisms. The findings shed light on the transformation micro-mechanisms in multiphase Mn-TRIP steels by revealing how strain localization among the constituents can directly influence the kinetics of the competing strain hardening mechanisms. © 2020

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