JOURNAL ARTICLE

Microstructure and cleavage in lath martensitic steels

John W Morris, Chris Kinney, Ken Pytlewski, Y Adachi
Science and Technology of Advanced Materials 2013, 14 (1): 014208
27877556
In this paper we discuss the microstructure of lath martensitic steels and the mechanisms by which it controls cleavage fracture. The specific experimental example is a 9Ni (9 wt% Ni) steel annealed to have a large prior austenite grain size, then examined and tested in the as-quenched condition to produce a relatively coarse lath martensite. The microstructure is shown to approximate the recently identified 'classic' lath martensite structure: prior austenite grains are divided into packets, packets are subdivided into blocks, and blocks contain interleaved laths whose variants are the two Kurjumov-Sachs relations that share the same Bain axis of the transformation. When the steel is fractured in brittle cleavage, the laths in the block share {100} cleavage planes and cleave as a unit. However, cleavage cracks deflect or blunt at the boundaries between blocks with different Bain axes. It follows that, as predicted, the block size governs the effective grain size for cleavage.

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