Evidence of multimicrometric coherent γ′ precipitates in a hot-forged γ-γ′ nickel-based superalloy

Abstract : This paper demonstrates the existence of large γ’ precipitates (several micrometres in diameter) that are coherent with their surrounding matrix grain in a commercial γ–γ’ nickel-based superalloy. The use of combined energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry and electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) analyses allowed for revealing that surprising feature, which was then confirmed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Coherency for such large second-phase particles is supported by a very low crystal lattice misfit between the two phases, which was confirmed thanks to X-ray diffractograms and TEM selected area electron diffraction patterns. Dynamic recrystallization of polycrystalline γ–γ’ nickel-based superalloys has been extensively studied in terms of mechanisms and kinetics. As in many materials with low stacking fault energy, under forging conditions, the main softening mechanism is discontinuous dynamic recrystallization. This mechanism occurs with preferential nucleation on the grain boundaries of the deformed matrix. The latter is then being consumed by the growth of the newly formed grains of low energy and by nucleation that keeps generating new grains. In the case of sub-solvus forging, large γ’ particles usually pin the migrating boundaries and thus limit grain growth to a size which is determined by the distribution of second-phase particles, in good agreement with the Smith–Zener model. Under particular circumstances, the driving force associated with the difference in stored energy between the growing grains and the matrix can be large enough that the pinning forces can be overcome, and some grains can then reach much larger grain sizes. In the latter exceptional case, some intragranular primary γ’ particles can be observed, although they are almost exclusively located on grain boundaries and triple junctions otherwise. In both cases, primary precipitates have no special orientation relationship with the surrounding matrix grain(s). This paper demonstrates the existence of high fractions of large γ’ precipitate (several micrometres in diameter) that are coherent with their surrounding matrix grain, in a commercial γ–γ’ nickel-based superalloy. Such a configuration is very surprising, because there is apparently no reason for the coherency of such particles.
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Marie-Agathe Charpagne, Philippe Vennegues, Thomas Billot, Jean-Michel Franchet, Nathalie Bozzolo. Evidence of multimicrometric coherent γ′ precipitates in a hot-forged γ-γ′ nickel-based superalloy. Journal of Microscopy, Wiley, 2016, 263 (1), pp.106-112 ⟨10.1111/jmi.12380⟩. ⟨hal-01354002⟩

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