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Exceptional damage-tolerance of a medium-entropy alloy CrCoNi at cryogenic temperatures

Nature Communications

Nature Publishing Group

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      Abstract

      High-entropy alloys are an intriguing new class of metallic materials that derive their properties from being multi-element systems that can crystallize as a single phase, despite containing high concentrations of five or more elements with different crystal structures. Here we examine an equiatomic medium-entropy alloy containing only three elements, CrCoNi, as a single-phase face-centred cubic solid solution, which displays strength-toughness properties that exceed those of all high-entropy alloys and most multi-phase alloys. At room temperature, the alloy shows tensile strengths of almost 1 GPa, failure strains of ∼70% and K JIc fracture-toughness values above 200 MPa  m1/2; at cryogenic temperatures strength, ductility and toughness of the CrCoNi alloy improve to strength levels above 1.3 GPa, failure strains up to 90% and K JIc values of 275 MPa  m1/2. Such properties appear to result from continuous steady strain hardening, which acts to suppress plastic instability, resulting from pronounced dislocation activity and deformation-induced nano-twinning.

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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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        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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          Revealing the maximum strength in nanotwinned copper.

          The strength of polycrystalline materials increases with decreasing grain size. Below a critical size, smaller grains might lead to softening, as suggested by atomistic simulations. The strongest size should arise at a transition in deformation mechanism from lattice dislocation activities to grain boundary-related processes. We investigated the maximum strength of nanotwinned copper samples with different twin thicknesses. We found that the strength increases with decreasing twin thickness, reaching a maximum at 15 nanometers, followed by a softening at smaller values that is accompanied by enhanced strain hardening and tensile ductility. The strongest twin thickness originates from a transition in the yielding mechanism from the slip transfer across twin boundaries to the activity of preexisting easy dislocation sources.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            26830651
            10.1038/ncomms10602
            4740901

            http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

            Uncategorized

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