A new paradigm for designing high-fracture-energy steels

M. E. Fine, S. Vaynman, D. Isheim, Y. W. Chung, S. P. Bhat, C. H. Hahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The steels used for structural and other applications ideally should have both high strength and high toughness. Most high-strength steels contain substantial carbon content that gives poor weldability and toughness. A theoretical study is presented that was inspired by the early work of Weertman on the effect that single or clusters of solute atoms with slightly different atom sizes have on dislocation configurations in metals. This is of particular interest for metals with high Peierls stress. Misfit centers that are coherent and coplanar in body-centered cubic (bcc) metals can provide sufficient twisting of nearby screw dislocations to reduce the Peierls stress locally and to give improved dislocation mobility and hence better toughness at low temperatures. Therefore, the theory predicts that such nanoscale misfit centers in low-carbon steels can give both precipitation hardening and improved ductility and fracture toughness. To explore the validity of this theory, we measured the Charpy impact fracture energy as a function of temperature for a series of low-carbon Cu-precipitation-strengthened steels. Results show that an addition of 0.94 to 1.49 wt pct Cu and other accompanying elements results in steels with high Charpy impact energies down to cryogenic temperatures (198 K [-75 °C]) with no distinct ductile-to-brittle transition. The addition of 0.1 wt pct Ti results in an additional increase in impact toughness, with Charpy impact fracture energies ranging from 358 J (machine limit) at 248 K (-25 °C) to almost 200 J at 198 K (-75 °C). Extending this concept of using coherent and coplanar misfit centers to decrease the Peierls stress locally to other than bcc iron-based systems suggests an intriguing possibility of developing ductile hexagonal close-packed alloys and intermetallics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3318-3325
Number of pages8
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys


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