Mechanical behavior of a bulk nanostructured iron alloy

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Bulk, fully dense materials were prepared from Fe-10Cu with grain diameters between 45 run and 1.7 yum. The materials were prepared by ball milling of powders in a glove box, followed by hot isostatic pressing (hipping) or powder forging. Larger grain sizes were obtained by thermal treatment of the consolidated powders. The bulk materials were relatively clean, with oxygen levels below 1500 wpm and other contaminants less than 0.1 at. pet. The mechanical behavior of these materials was unique. At temperatures from 77 to 470 K, the first and only mechanism of plastic deformation was intense shear banding, which was accompanied by a perfectly plastic stress-strain response (absence of strain hardening). There was a large tension-compression asymmetry in the strength, and the shear bands did not occur on the plane of maximum shear stress or the plane of zero extension. This behavior, while unusual for metals, has been observed in amorphous polymers and metallic glasses. On the other hand, the fine-grained Fe-10Cu materials behaved like coarse-grained iron in some respects, particularly by obeying the Hall-Petch equation with constants reasonably close to those of pure iron and by exhibiting low-temperature mechanical behavior which was very similar to that of steels. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies found highly elongated grains within shear bands, indicating that shear banding occurred by a dislocation-based mechanism, at least at grain sizes above 100 nm. Similarities and differences between the fine-grained Fe-10Cu and metals, polymers, metallic glasses, radiation-damaged metals, and quench-damaged metals are discussed.

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Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science