Microstructure and thermo-mechanical properties of gradient nickel alloys
Gradient structured (GS) metallic materials have shown unique properties including the synergy of high strength and good ductility, improved fatigue and wear/friction resistance etc. One of the severe surface modification technique, surface mechanical grinding treatment (SMGT), has been proven an effective method for the generation of gradient structures in metallic materials. Most of Ni-based superalloys are precipitation strengthened and with an extraordinary combination of high strength, ductility and resistance to oxidation at high temperatures. The precipitation behaviors of these materials are sensitive to their initial microstructures. This thesis focuses on the microstructure evolution and mechanical behaviors of two types of gradient Ni alloys.
GS Hastelloy C-22HS and Inconel 718 (IN718) Ni-based superalloys were fabricated through the SMGT technique. The gradient structures consist of nanograined (NG) or nanolaminate (NL) surface layer and the subsurface layers with deformation twins. In situ compression test results reveal that intergranular back stress may contributes to the high work hardening capability of the GS C-22HS alloy. Mo-rich thick grain boundaries (GBs) formed in the gradient C-22HS samples after heat treatment. In situ micropillar compression studies coupled with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations reveal that the Mo-rich thick GBs are stronger barriers than conventional thin GBs to the transmission of dislocations, leading to significant strengthening. Furthermore, the formation of thick GBs also contributes to the improvement of thermal stability of nanograins in the C-22HS alloys. The gradient microstructures in the IN718 alloy changed the precipitation behavior and thermal stability of nanograins in the alloy. The studies on precipitation behaviors of GS IN718 alloy reveal that η phase formed in the severely deformed surface NG layer after annealing at 700 oC. Thermal stability studies show that NG IN718 alloy with grain sizes smaller than the critical value of ~ 40 nm is thermally more stable than their coarse-grained counterpart. The underlying mechanisms of strengthening and improved thermal stability of the gradient Ni-based superalloys are discussed based on transmission electron microscopy studies and MD simulations. This work suggests that tailoring the gradient microstructures may lead to the discovery of metallic materials with novel mechanical and thermodynamic properties.