Thermodynamics of grain boundary segregation, interfacial spinodal and their relevance for nucleation during solid-solid phase transitions

Kwiatkowski da Silva, A. and Kamachali, R.D. and Ponge, D. and Gault, B. and Neugebauer, J. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 168 Pages: 109-120
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2019.02.005
Published: 2019

Grain boundary segregation, embrittlement and phase nucleation are interconnected phenomena that are often treated separately, which is partly due to limitations of the current models to predict grain boundary segregation in non-ideal solid solutions. Here, a simple model is introduced to predict grain boundary segregation in solid solutions by coupling available bulk thermodynamic data with a mean-field description of the grain boundary character. The model is confronted with experimental results obtained in Fe-Mn alloys analysed by atom probe tomography. This model successfully predicts a first order transition or a discontinuous jump in the composition of the grain boundary which kinetically implies the formation of spinodal Mn fluctuations that tend to grow further with time within the segregated region. The increase in solute concentration at the grain boundary leads to an increase of the enthalpy of the boundary and to its embrittlement at lower temperatures. Once austenite is formed, the amount of segregated solute Mn on the grain boundaries is drastically reduced and the toughness of the grain boundary is increased. © 2019 Acta Materialia Inc.

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