Investigating the Effect of Austenite Grain Size and Grain Boundary Character on Deformation Twinning Behavior in A High-Manganese TWIP Steel: A TEM In-Situ Deformation Study

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Virginia Tech

Nanocrystalline metals exhibit a high strength/hardness but generally poor ductility during deformation regardless of their crystal structure which is often called the strength-ductility trade-off relationship and generally appears in most ultrafine-grained metals. The ultrafine-grained (UFG) high manganese austenitic twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP) steels have been found to overcome the strength-ductility trade-off but their underlying mechanism of discontinuous yielding behavior has not been well understood. In this study, our systematic TEM characterization suggests that the plastic deformation mechanisms in the early stage of deformation, around the macroscopic yield point, show an obvious association with grain size and nucleation of deformation twin was promoted rather than suppressed in UFG. More specifically, the main mechanism shifts from the conventional slip in grain interior to twinning nucleated from grain boundaries with decreasing the grain size down to less than 1 m. We also provide insights into the atomistic process of deformation twin nucleation at 3{111} twin boundaries, the dominant type of grain boundary in the UFG-TWIP steel of interest. In response to the external tensile stresses, the structure of coherent 3{111} twin boundary changes from atomistically smooth to partly defective by the grain boundary migration mechanism thus the "kink-like" defective step can act as a nucleation site for deformation twin, which deformation process is different from the one induced by dislocation pile-ups in coarse-grained counterparts and explain why UFG TWIP steel can retain the moderate ductility. In addition to the effect of grain size on deformation twin nucleation, grain boundary character was also taken into account. In coarse-grained TWIP steel, we experimentally reveal that deformation twin nucleation occurs at an annealing twin () boundary in a high-Mn austenitic steel when dislocation pile-up at boundary produced a local stress exceeding the twining stress, while no obvious local stress concentration was required at relatively high-energy grain boundaries such as or  A periodic contrast reversal associated with a sequential stacking faults emission from boundary was observed by in-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) deformation experiments, proving the successive layer-by-layer stacking fault emission was the deformation twin nucleation mechanism. The correlation between grain boundary character and deformation behavior was discussed both in low- and high-sigma value grain boundaries. On the other hand, localized strain concentration causes the nucleation of deformation twins at grain boundaries regardless of the grain boundary misorientation character in UFG TWIP steel. The invisibility of stacking fault (zero contrast) was also observed to be emitted at 3{111} boundaries in the coarse-grained TWIP steel, which deformation twin nucleation mechanism is found to be identical to UFG Fe-31Mn-3Si-3Al TWIP steel.

ultrafine grained materials, TWIP Steel, twin boundary migration, grain boundary, deformation twinning, strain mapping, in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM)