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The brittle-to-ductile transition in cold-rolled tungsten sheets: the rate-limiting mechanism of plasticity controlling the BDT in ultrafine-grained tungsten
Conventionally produced tungsten (W) sheets are brittle at room temperature.In contrast to that, severe deformation by cold rolling transforms W into a material exhibiting room-temperature ductility with a brittle-to-ductile transition (BDT) temperature far below room temperature. For such ultrafine-grained (UFG) and dislocation-rich materials, the mechanism controlling the BDT is still the subject of ongoing debates. In order to identify the mechanism controlling the BDT in room-temperature ductile W sheets with UFG microstructure, we conducted campaigns of fracture toughness tests accompanied by a thermodynamic analysis deducing Arrhenius BDT activation energies. Here, we show that plastic deformation induced by rolling reduces the BDT temperature and also the BDT activation energy. A comparison of BDT activation energies with the trend of Gibbs energy of kink-pair formation revealed a strong correlation between both quantities. This demonstrates that out of the three basic processes,nucleation, glide, and annihilation, crack tip plasticity in UFG W is still controlled by the glide of dislocations. The glide is dictated by the mobility of the screw segments and therefore by the underlying process of kink-pair formation. Reflecting this result, a change of the rate-limiting mechanism for plasticity of UFG W seems unlikely, even at deformation temperatures well below room temperature. As a result, kink-pair formation controls the BDT in W over a wide range of microstructural length scales, from single crystals and coarse-grained specimens down to UFG microstructures.