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Origin of dramatic oxygen solute strengthening effect in titanium

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Science  06 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6222, pp. 635-639
DOI: 10.1126/science.1260485

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Screw dislocations: A hard case to crack

The motion of dislocations or defects in a metal influences its strength and toughness. If these defects can be “pinned” by adding alloying elements, it should be possible to create a stronger alloy. It was thought that there shouldn't be much of an interaction between screw dislocations and any alloying elements. However, Yu et al. show that for α-Ti, the profound hardening effect of oxygen is due to the strong interactions with the core of the dislocations. First-principles calculations reveal that distortion of the interstitial sites at the dislocation core creates a very strong but short-range repulsion for oxygen atoms.

Science, this issue p. 635

Abstract

Structural alloys are often strengthened through the addition of solute atoms. However, given that solute atoms interact weakly with the elastic fields of screw dislocations, it has long been accepted that solution hardening is only marginally effective in materials with mobile screw dislocations. By using transmission electron microscopy and nanomechanical characterization, we report that the intense hardening effect of dilute oxygen solutes in pure α-Ti is due to the interaction between oxygen and the core of screw dislocations that mainly glide on prismatic planes. First-principles calculations reveal that distortion of the interstitial sites at the screw dislocation core creates a very strong but short-range repulsion for oxygen that is consistent with experimental observations. These results establish a highly effective mechanism for strengthening by interstitial solutes.

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