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Confined chemical and structural states at dislocations in Fe–9wt%Mn steels: A correlative TEM-atom probe study combined with multiscale modelling
We investigated a high-purity cold-rolled martensitic Fe-9wt%Mn alloy. Tensile tests performed at room temperature after tempering for 6 h at 450 °C showed discontinuous yielding. Such static strain ageing phenomena in Fe are usually associated with the segregation of interstitial elements such as C or N to dislocations. Here we show by correlative transmission electron microscopy (TEM)/atom probe tomography (APT) experiments that in this case Mn segregation to edge dislocations associated with the formation of confined austenitic states causes similar effects. The local chemical composition at the dislocation cores was investigated for different tempering temperatures by APT relative to the adjacent bcc matrix. In all cases the Mn partitioning to the dislocation core regions matches to the one between ferrite and austenite in thermodynamic equilibrium at the corresponding tempering temperature. Although a stable structural and chemical confined austenitic state has formed at the dislocation cores these regions do not grow further even upon prolonged tempering. Simulation reveals that the high Mn enrichment along the edge dislocation lines (25 at.%Mn at 450 °C) cannot be described merely as a Cottrell atmosphere formed by segregation driven by size interaction. Thermodynamic calculations based on a multiscale model indicate that these austenite states at the dislocation cores are subcritical and defect-stabilized by the compression stress field of the edge dislocations. Phenomenologically, these states are the 1D equivalent to the so-called complexions which have been extensively reported to be present at 2D defects, hence have been named linear complexions.