Interplay between metastable phases controls strength and ductility in steels

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By means of high-energy synchrotron X-ray diffraction, the interplay between martensite and retained austenite phases in steel during the application of stress has been analyzed. Martensite properties were varied through controlled reheating heat treatments in a low carbon Quenched and Partitioned (Q&P) steel consisting of retained austenite and martensite. The reheating treatments significantly altered martensite strength while keeping the same fractions of retained austenite as the non-reheated Q&P microstructures, resulting in different degrees of stress partitioning and work hardening of the individual microconstituents. Results of this study show that the strength ratio between the different phases in the microstructure plays a crucial role in the onset and rate of mechanically induced decomposition of retained austenite. Consequently, the strength ratio between phases controls the yielding and work-hardening of the material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-194
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Austenite stability
  • Martensite strength
  • Multiphase steels
  • Synchrotron XRD
  • Work-hardening

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