Mechanical Behaviour of Ultra fine grain aluminium alloy. Analysis and modelling of the enhanced role of grain boundaries

Abstract : Ultrafine grained (UFG) alloys seem promising, based on their high tensile properties and the possibility of superplastic forming at relatively low temperature. However, their deformation mechanisms are not fully understood, and their performance in fatigue has not been thoroughly investigated. This work compares the viscoplastic behavior, and the deformation and damage mechanisms in tension and fatigue of a UFG Al-Mg alloy (600 nm mean grain size) obtained by severe plastic deformation (ECAP process) with that of its coarse-grained (CG) counterpart.The strain rate sensitivity (SRS) of both materials has been measured during creep, relaxation and tensile tests run at various strain rates and temperature. Microstructural refinement is shown to increase the SRS, which rises as the strain rate decreases, and controls the ductility. The UFG material becomes softer and more ductile than the CG material at high temperature. The temperature and strain rate domain for which the UFG alloy is stronger or softer has been determined.Tensile tests run in a SEM, with DIC measurements of strain fields at meso/ micro scales (using gold microgrids printed by electron beam lithography) and at sub-micron scale (using a superfine speckle obtained by film remodelling) have shown that grain boundary sliding is more and more active in both materials as the temperature rises and as the strain rate decreases. Grain boundary sliding is cooperative and occurs mostly at high-angle grain boundaries in the UFG alloy, where the strain field is more heterogeneous, and where very high strain levels (> 100%) are often observed in localized bands.A 2D finite element model taking into account the viscoplastic behaviour inside the grains, and viscous sliding at the grain boundaries has been identified other the whole temperature range investigated. It captures well the observed behaviours and the much larger contribution of grain boundary sliding in the UFG alloy. It also provides the evolution of this contribution during strain hardening.Plastic strain-controlled push-pull tests and stress-controlled push-pull tests were run to investigate the cyclic behaviour and damage mechanisms of the two materials in low and high-cycle fatigue. The tests were followed by fractographic observations, statistical analysis of surface damage, as well as TEM observations of dislocations arrangements. Both materials exhibit cyclic hardening, although it is more modest in the UFG alloy, in which grain growth occurs at high amplitude. While isotropic hardening predominates in the CG alloy where the density of dislocation strongly increases during cyclic tests, kinematic hardening predominates in the UFG alloy, because of its limited capacity to store dislocations and its more heterogeneous plastic deformation. For a given plastic strain range, the UFG alloy has a shorter fatigue life than its CG counterpart, because of a much easier crack initiation, mostly from intermetallic particles. For a given stress range, it has a slightly higher life, due to a slower development of microcracks, which have a transgranular path in the largest grains, with some intergranular growth within the smallest grains.
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Anchal Goyal. Mechanical Behaviour of Ultra fine grain aluminium alloy. Analysis and modelling of the enhanced role of grain boundaries. Mechanics of materials [physics.class-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX091⟩. ⟨tel-02059492⟩

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