Skip to main content
To KTH's start page To KTH's start page

Stacking fault energy and deformation behaviour of austenitic stainless steels: a joint theoretical-experimental study

Time: Thu 2019-11-28 09.00

Location: F3, Lindstedsvägen 26, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Materials Science and Engineering

Doctoral student: Dávid Sándor Molnár , Tillämpad materialfysik

Opponent: Prof. Dr. Guocai Chai,

Supervisor: Prof. Levente Vitos, Materialvetenskap, Tillämpad materialfysik, Tillämpad fysik; Prof. Göran Engberg, Högskolan Dalarna

Export to calendar


Austenitic stainless steels are primarily known for their exceptional corrosion resistance. They have the face centred cubic (FCC) structure which is stabilised by adding nickel, manganese or nitrogen to the Fe-Cr alloy. The Fe-Cr-Ni system can be further extended by adding other elements such as Mo, Cu, Ti, C, etc. to improve the properties. Since austenitic stainless steels are often used as structural materials, it is important to be able to predict their mechanical behaviour based on their composition, microstructure, magnetic state, etc.

In this work, the plastic deformation behaviour of austenitic stainless steels is investigated by theoretical and experimental approaches. In FCC materials the stacking fault energy (SFE) plays an important role in the description and prediction of the deformation modes. Based on the magnitude of the SFE different deformation modes can be observed such as martensite formation, deformation twinning, or dislocation glide. All these deformation modes influence the material behaviour, therefore it is desired to predict and control their occurrence. Alloying elements and temperature have a strong effect on the SFE and thus on the mechanical properties of the alloys. Several models based on the SFE and more recently on the so-called generalised stacking fault energy (GSFE or γ-surface) are available to describe the alloy's affinity to twinning and the critical twinning stress representing the minimum resolved shear stress required to initiate the deformation twinning mechanism. One can employ well established experimental techniques to measure the SFE. On the other hand, one needs to resort to ab initio calculations based on density functional theory (DFT) to compute the GSFE of austenitic steels and derive parameters like the twinnability and the critical twinning stress.

The correlation between the stacking fault energy and the deformation behaviour for four different austenitic stainless steels is discussed in this work. The SFE of the selected alloys is obtained by ab initio calculations and based on different models, their tendency for twinning and their critical twinning stress is predicted. The mechanical behaviour and the affinity for twinning and martensitic transformation is mapped across a broad range of temperature (-70°C to +500°C) for the four alloys. The theoretical predictions are contrasted with tensile tests and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) measurements. Several conventional and in situ tensile test are performed to verify the theoretical results. EBSD measurements on interrupted and fractured specimens, and during in situ tensile tests were carried out to closely follow the development of the microstructure. In the present thesis, a technique is proposed that can provide accurate unstable stacking fault energy values for any austenitic alloy exhibiting twinning at low stress values. The importance of temperature and interstitial alloying on mechanical behaviour is also investigated.