Extremely hard amorphous-crystalline hybrid steel surface produced by deformation induced cementite amorphization

W Guo and YF Meng and X Zhang and V Bedekar and HB Bei and S Hyde and QY Guo and GB Thompson and R Shivpuri and JM Zuo and JD Poplawsky, ACTA MATERIALIA, 152, 107-118 (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2018.04.013

Amorphous and nanograined (NG) steels are two categories of strong steels. However, over the past decade, their application has been hindered by their limited plasticity, the addition of expensive alloying elements, and processing challenges associated with producing bulk materials. Here, we report that the surface of a carburized Fe-Mn-Si martensitic steel with extremely low elemental alloying additions can be economically fabricated into an amorphous-nanocrystalline hybrid structure. Atom probe tomography and nanobeam diffraction of a hard turned steel surface together with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations reveal that the original cementite surface structure experiences a size- dependent amorphization and phase transformation during heavy plastic deformation. MD simulations further show that the martensite-cementite interface serves as a nucleation site for cementite amorphization, and that cementite can become disordered if further strained when the cementite particles are relatively small. These graded structures exhibit a surface hardness of similar to 16.2 GPa, which exceeds the value of similar to 8.8 GPa for the original nanocrystalline martensitic steel and most nanocrystalline steels reported before. This practical and cost-efficient approach for producing a hard surface with retained bulk ductility and toughness can provide expanded opportunities for producing an amorphous-crystalline hybrid structure in steels and other alloy systems. (C) 2018 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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