Characterization of the Carbon and Retained Austenite Distributions in Martensitic Medium Carbon, High Silicon Steel


The retained austenite content and carbon distribution in martensite were determined as a function of cooling rate and temper temperature in steel that contained 1.31 at. pct C, 3.2 at. pct Si, and 3.2 at. pct noniron metallic elements. Mössbauer spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), transmission synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD), and atom probe tomography were used for the microstructural analyses. The retained austenite content was an inverse, linear function of cooling rate between 25 and 560 K/s. The elevated Si content of 3.2 at. pct did not shift the start of austenite decomposition to higher tempering temperatures relative to SAE 4130 steel. The minimum tempering temperature for complete austenite decomposition was significantly higher (<650 °C) than for SAE 4130 steel (~300 °C). The tempering temperatures for the precipitation of transition carbides and cementite were significantly higher (<400 °C) than for carbon steels (100 °C to 200 °C and 200 °C to 350 °C), respectively. Approximately 90 pct of the carbon atoms were trapped in Cottrell atmospheres in the vicinity of the dislocation cores in dislocation tangles in the martensite matrix after cooling at 560 K/s and aging at 22 °C. The 3.2 at. pct Si content increased the upper temperature limit for stable carbon clusters to above 215 °C. Significant autotempering occurred during cooling at 25 K/s. The proportion of total carbon that segregated to the interlath austenite films decreased from 34 to 8 pct as the cooling rate increased from 25 to 560 K/s. Developing a model for the transfer of carbon from martensite to austenite during quenching should provide a means for calculating the retained austenite. The maximum carbon content in the austenite films was 6 to 7 at. pct, both in specimens cooled at 560 K/s and at 25 K/s. Approximately 6 to 7 at. pct carbon was sufficient to arrest the transformation of austenite to martensite. The chemical potential of carbon is the same in martensite that contains 0.5 to 1.0 at. pct carbon and in austenite that contains 6 to 7 at. pct carbon. There was no segregation of any substitutional elements.



Keywords and Phrases

Martensite; Mössbauer Spectroscopy; Phase Transitions; Precipitation (Chemical); Silicon Steel; Tempering; Tomography; Transmission Electron Microscopy; X Ray Diffraction Analysis; Austenite Decomposition; Austenitic Distributions; Carbon Distribution; Austenite

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