Precipitation of paraequilibrium cementite: Experiments, and thermodynamic and kinetic modeling

G. Ghosh*, G. B. Olson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


The precipitation of cementite prior to the precipitation of the strengthening M2C phase is investigated using two model ultra-high strength (UHS) steels. The structure, microstructure and chemical composition of cementite are studied by analytical electron microscopy techniques. The structure of cementite precipitated during early stages of tempering at 755 and 783 K was confirmed by convergent beam electron diffraction. In an alloy containing 0.16 mass% C, the cementite particles were primarily plate shaped and interlath type, whereas in an alloy containing 0.247 mass% C both inter- and intralath particles were observed. Consistent with the earlier studies on tempering of Fe-C martensite, lattice imaging of cementite suggests microsyntactic intergrowth of M5C2 (Hägg carbide). Quantification of the substitutional elements in cementite confirms its paraequilibrium state with ferrite at the very early stage of tempering. Computational thermodynamic and kinetic tools, Thermo-Calc and DICTRA (DIffusion controlled TRAnsformation) software, respectively, are used to model the precipitaton of paraequilibrium cementite in several multicomponent alloys. A thermodynamic model parameter describing the effect of Si on the stability of cementite is proposed. The model parameter is consistent with the following results: (a) that Si does not partition to cementite in Fe-Si-C and Co-Si-C alloys under orthoequilibrium conditions, and (b) there is a large driving force for the precipitation of paraequilibrum cementite in an Fe-0.41C-3Mn-2Si alloy where it has been experimentally verified. The nucleation driving forces for the precipitation of paraequilibrium cementite, and the two-phase (ferrite and cementite) paraequilibrium boundaries for multicomponent alloys are calculated using the Thero-Calc software systems. The results of growth simulations of cementite under paraequilibrium condition in multicomponent systems using the DICTRA software are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2099-2119
Number of pages21
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 8 2002


  • Analytical electron microscopy
  • Cementite
  • Kinetics
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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