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      Metastable high-entropy dual-phase alloys overcome the strength–ductility trade-off

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          Abstract

          Metals have been mankind's most essential materials for thousands of years; however, their use is affected by ecological and economical concerns. Alloys with higher strength and ductility could alleviate some of these concerns by reducing weight and improving energy efficiency. However, most metallurgical mechanisms for increasing strength lead to ductility loss, an effect referred to as the strength-ductility trade-off. Here we present a metastability-engineering strategy in which we design nanostructured, bulk high-entropy alloys with multiple compositionally equivalent high-entropy phases. High-entropy alloys were originally proposed to benefit from phase stabilization through entropy maximization. Yet here, motivated by recent work that relaxes the strict restrictions on high-entropy alloy compositions by demonstrating the weakness of this connection, the concept is overturned. We decrease phase stability to achieve two key benefits: interface hardening due to a dual-phase microstructure (resulting from reduced thermal stability of the high-temperature phase); and transformation-induced hardening (resulting from the reduced mechanical stability of the room-temperature phase). This combines the best of two worlds: extensive hardening due to the decreased phase stability known from advanced steels and massive solid-solution strengthening of high-entropy alloys. In our transformation-induced plasticity-assisted, dual-phase high-entropy alloy (TRIP-DP-HEA), these two contributions lead respectively to enhanced trans-grain and inter-grain slip resistance, and hence, increased strength. Moreover, the increased strain hardening capacity that is enabled by dislocation hardening of the stable phase and transformation-induced hardening of the metastable phase produces increased ductility. This combined increase in strength and ductility distinguishes the TRIP-DP-HEA alloy from other recently developed structural materials. This metastability-engineering strategy should thus usefully guide design in the near-infinite compositional space of high-entropy alloys.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Nanostructured High-Entropy Alloys with Multiple Principal Elements: Novel Alloy Design Concepts and Outcomes

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            The conflicts between strength and toughness.

             Ian Ritchie (2011)
            The attainment of both strength and toughness is a vital requirement for most structural materials; unfortunately these properties are generally mutually exclusive. Although the quest continues for stronger and harder materials, these have little to no use as bulk structural materials without appropriate fracture resistance. It is the lower-strength, and hence higher-toughness, materials that find use for most safety-critical applications where premature or, worse still, catastrophic fracture is unacceptable. For these reasons, the development of strong and tough (damage-tolerant) materials has traditionally been an exercise in compromise between hardness versus ductility. Drawing examples from metallic glasses, natural and biological materials, and structural and biomimetic ceramics, we examine some of the newer strategies in dealing with this conflict. Specifically, we focus on the interplay between the mechanisms that individually contribute to strength and toughness, noting that these phenomena can originate from very different lengthscales in a material's structural architecture. We show how these new and natural materials can defeat the conflict of strength versus toughness and achieve unprecedented levels of damage tolerance within their respective material classes.
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              A fracture-resistant high-entropy alloy for cryogenic applications.

              High-entropy alloys are equiatomic, multi-element systems that can crystallize as a single phase, despite containing multiple elements with different crystal structures. A rationale for this is that the configurational entropy contribution to the total free energy in alloys with five or more major elements may stabilize the solid-solution state relative to multiphase microstructures. We examined a five-element high-entropy alloy, CrMnFeCoNi, which forms a single-phase face-centered cubic solid solution, and found it to have exceptional damage tolerance with tensile strengths above 1 GPa and fracture toughness values exceeding 200 MPa·m(1/2). Furthermore, its mechanical properties actually improve at cryogenic temperatures; we attribute this to a transition from planar-slip dislocation activity at room temperature to deformation by mechanical nanotwinning with decreasing temperature, which results in continuous steady strain hardening. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                June 2016
                May 18 2016
                June 2016
                : 534
                : 7606
                : 227-230
                10.1038/nature17981
                27279217
                © 2016

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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