Deformation mechanisms under tensile loading at room temperature have been studied in a polycrystalline nickel-based superalloy containing close to 50 vol.% γ'. In order to identify the effect of γ' particle size on deformation mechanisms, model microstructures with unimodal γ' size distributions were developed. The investigations were carried out by combining in situ loading experiments using neutron diffraction and two-site elasto-plastic self-consistent plasticity modelling with detailed post-mortem electron microscopy. The microscopy work also includes results for samples strained at 500 °C. During early plastic deformation, the diffraction data demonstrate that γ and γ' display the same elastic strain response, indicating that at this stage γ' is cut by dislocations regardless of the γ' particle size. Scanning electron microscopy studies showed an abundance of shearing processes in all three microstructures, hence supporting the conclusions drawn from the diffraction experiment. As the material is further deformed, elastic load transfer from γ to γ' was observed in the medium (130 nm) and coarse (230 nm) γ' microstructures but not in the fine (90 nm) γ' microstructure. The load transfer can be explained by assuming that Orowan looping becomes an additional operative deformation mode. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed that in the fine γ' microstructure deformation takes place by strongly coupled dislocations cutting the γ', while the medium and coarse γ' microstructures showed additional signs of Orowan looping.
- Elasto-plastic self-consistent (EPSC) model
- Electron microscopy
- Neutron diffraction
- Nickel-based superalloy
- Plastic deformation