Assessment of hardening due to non-coherent precipitates in tungsten- rhenium alloys at the atomic scale
G Bonny and A Bakaev and D Terentyev, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 9, 16215 (2019).
In metallurgical applications, precipitation strengthening is of great technological importance to engineer materials with the required strength. While precipitation hardening is essential for many applications involving operation at elevated temperatures, its subsequent embrittlement can be a showstopper for the overall performance of a component. In the nuclear industry, irradiation- induced/enhanced precipitation and the resulting embrittlement often limit the lifetime of components. In fusion applications, tungsten (W) based alloys are known to harden and embrittle as a result of irradiation-assisted transmutation to rhenium (Re) and its subsequent precipitation into non-coherent precipitates. Hence, a fundamental understanding of the interaction of dislocations with non-coherent precipitates is of great interest. In the present work, the interaction of dislocations with non-coherent Re-rich sigma, chi and hcp phase precipitates embedded in a bcc W matrix is assessed. Large-scale atomistic simulations are performed to clarify the interaction mechanisms and derive the obstacle strength of the precipitates in the quasi-static limit. Thereby the impact of precipitate shape, size, interspacing and composition is assessed. Based on those results, an analytical model to predict precipitation hardening of sigma, chi and hcp phase particles in bcc W is proposed and compared to available experimental data from mechanical tests on irradiated materials.
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