Precipitation hardening effects on extension twinning in magnesium alloys

HD Fan and YX Zhu and JA El-Awady and D Raabe, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PLASTICITY, 106, 186-202 (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijplas.2018.03.008

Precipitation is an efficient method to strengthen metallic materials. While precipitation hardening effects on dislocation slip have been studied extensively in the past, the influence of precipitates on twinning mediated plasticity and the development of corresponding hardening models that account for twin-precipitate interactions have received less attention. Here, the interaction of 10-12 extension twin boundaries (TBs) in pure magnesium with precipitates of plate-, sphere- and rod-like shapes is studied using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. We find that TBs that engulf precipitates are absorbed by the precipitate-matrix interfaces, and the precipitates are neither twinned nor sheared but deform elastically leading to their rotation. TBs can pass small precipitates (length approximate to 20 nm) and remain intact. In contrast when TBs are interacting with large precipitates (length approximate to 50 nm), basal dislocations or stacking faults nucleate from the interfaces, causing local plastic relaxation. The stress field around a plate-like precipitate as calculated in the MD simulations suggests that a strong back-stress is imposed on the TBs. We then coarse grain these mechanisms into an analytical mean field model of precipitation hardening on twinning in magnesium alloys, which is based on the energy conservation during the TB-precipitate interaction. The model is in good agreement with the current MD simulations and published experimental observations. The hardening model shows that spherical precipitates have the strongest hardening effect on twinning, basal and prismatic plate-like precipitates have a medium effect while rod-like precipitates exert the weakest influence. We also find that most types of precipitates show a stronger hardening effect on twinning mediated plasticity than on basal dislocation slip. Finally, prismatic plate-like precipitates are predicted to have reasonable hardening effects on both twinning and basal slip. These results can help guiding the development of magnesium alloys with enhanced strength and ductility.

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