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Sigma Phase: Nucleation and Growth

Graduate Program on Metallurgical Engineering, Federal Fluminense University, Avenida dos Trabalhadores, 420, Vila Santa Cecília, 27255-125 Volta Redonda, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Metals 2019, 9(1), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/met9010034
Received: 5 December 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 27 December 2018 / Published: 3 January 2019
Duplex stainless steels (DSS) and superduplex stainless steels (SDSS) are important classes of stainless steels, because they combine the benefits of austenite and ferrite phases. This results in steels with better mechanical properties and higher corrosion resistance. Owing to these characteristics, DSS and SDSS are widely employed in industry. However, the appearance of undesirable intermetallic phases in their microstructure impairs the properties of DSS and SDSS. Among the undesirable intermetallic phases, the main one is the sigma phase (σ), which can be nucleated when the steel is exposed to the temperature range between 650 °C and 900 °C, reducing the steel’s toughness and resistance to corrosion. In a previous work, Fonseca and collaborators used two descriptors of the microstructural path to analyze the formation of sigma phase (σ), the interfacial area per unit volume between sigma phase and austenite (SV), and the mean chord length of sigma (<λ>), both as a function of VV, the volume fraction of sigma, known in the literature as the microstructural partial path (MP). In this work, the contiguity ratio is applied for the first time to describe the microstructural path in the study of sigma phase precipitation in SDSS. The contiguity ratio shows that the distribution of the ferrite/sigma boundaries is homogeneous. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that one has a uniform distribution of sigma phase nuclei within the ferrite. About the kinetics of sigma phase formation, the DSS can be described by the classical Johnson-Mehl, Avrami, and Kolmogorov (JMAK) equation, whereas for the SDSS, the kinetics tend to follow the Cahn model for grain edge nucleation. Finally, we present the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the sigma phase in SDSS. The results demonstrate that the sigma phase nucleates at the edges of the ferrite/austenite interfaces. Moreover, the sigma phase grows and consumes the ferrite, but is not fully interconnected. View Full-Text
Keywords: sigma phase; contiguity; kinetics; Cahn models; 3D reconstruction sigma phase; contiguity; kinetics; Cahn models; 3D reconstruction
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Fonseca, G.S.; Mendes, P.S.N.; Silva, A.C.M. Sigma Phase: Nucleation and Growth. Metals 2019, 9, 34.

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