Evidence of twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP) and ultrahigh hardness in additively-manufactured near-eutectic Ni-Nb

MR Jones and NS Bobbitt and FW DelRio and MA Wilson and HC Howard and MA Endsley and JW Pegues and P Lu and AB Kustas and IJ Beyerlein and M Chandross and N Argibay, JOURNAL OF MATERIALS SCIENCE (2023).

DOI: 10.1007/s10853-023-08636-8

The temperature-dependent hardness of additively-manufactured near- eutectic Ni-Nb was investigated. This alloy was found to have solidified into a two-phase nanoscale microstructure with peak hardness of H approximately equal to 14-17 GPa at temperatures up to 400 degrees C, above which irreversible softening was observed despite retention of significant strength compared to traditionally-synthesized Ni-based superalloys. Experiments and molecular-dynamics simulations show that deformation for single-phase nanocrystalline volumes was confined to intragranular slip-band formation in delta-Ni3Nb and to intergranular grain-boundary sliding in mu-Ni6Nb7. However, microscopy in the nanostructured two-phase regions after severe plastic deformation indicated that phase boundaries acted as nucleation sites for dislocations, promoting twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP) in the mu- Ni6Nb7 grains. This work highlights (1) that additive manufacturing techniques enable formation of unique microstructures that exhibit superior mechanical properties, and (2) that multi-phase intermetallic compounds provide a route to mitigate brittle fracture though the promotion of twinning-induced plasticity. High strength and the absence of interface decohesion (cracking) suggests that multi-phase intermetallic systems may be a viable route for design of new printable superalloys. These results suggest that additive manufacturing methods and rapid solidification via non-equilibrium pathways may enable a pathway for achieving high combined strength and ductility.

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