What is it about?
The use of novel multi-scale correlative methods, which involve the coordinated characterisation of matter across a range of length scales, are becoming of increasing value to materials scientists. Here, we describe for the first time how a multi-scale correlative approach can be used to investigate the nature of ductile fracture in metals. Specimens of a nuclear pressure vessel steel, SA508 Grade 3, are examined following ductile fracture using medium and high-resolution 3D X-ray computed tomography (CT) analyses, and a site-specific analysis using a dual beam plasma focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (PFIB-SEM). The methods are employed sequentially to characterise damage by void nucleation and growth in one volume of interest, allowing for the imaging of voids that ranged in size from less than 100 nm to over 100 μm. This enables the examination of voids initiated at carbide particles to be detected, as well as the large voids initiated at inclusions. We demonstrate that this multi-scale correlative approach is a powerful tool, which not only enhances our understanding of ductile failure through detailed characterisation of microstructure, but also provides quantitative information about the size, volume fractions and spatial distributions of voids that can be used to inform models of failure. It is found that the vast majority of large voids nucleated at MnS inclusions, and that the volume of a void varied according to the volume of its initiating inclusion raised to the power 3/2. The most severe voiding was concentrated within 500 μm of the fracture surface, but measurable damage was found to extend to a depth of at least 3 mm. Microvoids associated with carbides (carbide-initiated voids) were found to be concentrated around larger inclusion-initiated voids at depths of at least 400 μm. Methods for quantifying X-ray CT void data are discussed, and a procedure for using this data to calibrate parameters in the Gurson-Tvergaard Needleman (GTN) model for ductile failure is also introduced.
The following have contributed to this page: Professor Philip J Withers