Nanoscale co-precipitation and mechanical properties of a high-strength low-carbon steel

Michael D. Mulholland, David N. Seidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Nanoscale co-precipitation in a novel high-strength low-carbon steel is studied in detail after isothermal aging. Atom-probe tomography is utilized to quantify the co-precipitation of co-located Cu precipitates and M2C (M is any combination of Cr, Mo, Fe, or Ti) carbide strengthening precipitates. Coarsening of Cu precipitates is offset by the nucleation and growth of M 2C carbide precipitate, resulting in the maintenance of a yield strength of 1047 ± 7 MPa (152 ± 1 ksi) for as long as 320 h of aging time at 450 °C. Impact energies of 153 J (113 ± 6 ft-lb) and 144 J (106 ± 2 ft-lb) are measured at -30 °C and -60 °C, respectively. The co-location of Cu and M2C carbide precipitates results in non-stationary-state coarsening of the Cu precipitates. Synchrotron-source X-ray diffraction studies reveal that the measured 33% increase in impact toughness after aging for 80 h at 450 °C is due to dissolution of cementite, Fe3C, which is the source of carbon for the nucleation and growth of M2C carbide precipitates. Less than 1 vol.% austenite is observed for aging treatments at temperatures less than 600 °C, suggesting that transformation-induced plasticity does not play a significant role in the toughness of specimens aged at temperatures less than 600 °C. Aging treatments at temperatures greater than 600 °C produce more austenite, in the range 2-7%, but at the expense of yield strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1881-1897
Number of pages17
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Atom-probe field-ion microscopy (AP-FIM)
  • Precipitation
  • Steel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys

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