Inverse Temperature Dependence of Toughness in an Ultrafine Grain-Structure Steel

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Science  23 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5879, pp. 1057-1060
DOI: 10.1126/science.1156084

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Materials are typically ductile at higher temperatures and become brittle at lower temperatures. In contrast to the typical ductile-to-brittle transition behavior of body-centered cubic (bcc) steels, we observed an inverse temperature dependence of toughness in an ultrahigh-strength bcc steel with an ultrafine elongated ferrite grain structure that was processed by a thermomechanical treatment without the addition of a large amount of an alloying element. The enhanced toughness is attributed to a delamination that was a result of crack branching on the aligned {100} cleavage planes in the bundles of the ultrafine elongated ferrite grains strengthened by nanometer-sized carbides. In the temperature range from 60° to –60°C, the yield strength was greater, leading to the enhancement of the toughness.

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