On the role of interlath retained austenite in the deformation of lath martensite

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Literature presents extensive experimental evidence of large deformation and ductile fracture behaviour of lath martensite in martensitic and multi-phase high strength steels under quasi-static, uniaxial loading conditions. The physical origin of this apparent ductile behaviour of martensite is not clear, since martensite generally provides a high material strength. The presence of thin films of interlath retained austenite may trigger the observed apparent martensite ductility. The present contribution investigates the role played by interlath retained austenite on the mechanics of lath martensite by means of crystal plasticity simulations. It is shown that independently from the interlath retained austenite volume fraction and the exact lath morphology, localized shearing along the lath habit plane occurs as long as there are enough carriers for plasticity. The austenite film acts like a 'greasy' plane on which the stiffer laths can slide. The shearing mechanism is not a mere consequence of the lower flow stress in the austenitic phase, but it is largely due to the orientation relationship between the retained austenite face centred cubic lattice and the body centred cubic lath crystals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045011
Pages (from-to)045011-1/21
Number of pages21
JournalModelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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