Low-Temperature Nitridation of 2205 Duplex Stainless Steel

Abstract

Low-temperature gas-phase nitridation has been studied in \(\updelta \)-ferrite in 2205 duplex stainless steel. High-resolution spatially-resolved compositional and structural analysis revealed two competitive responses to nitridation. Some regions revealed a nitrogen atom fraction approaching 25 at. pct—greater than \(10^6\) times the equilibrium solubility limit at room temperature. Remarkably, there is no expansion or distortion of the body-centered cubic lattice. This is similar to the response of \(\updelta \)-ferrite in this alloy to low-temperature carburization. In conventional transmission electron microscopy bright-field images, the supersaturated ferrite grains show no diffraction contrast—resembling the appearance of amorphous structures—suggesting an unusually high defect density. These grains exhibit spinodal decomposition of the ferrite to nanometer-scale Fe-rich and Cr-rich ferrite domains. High-resolution imaging reveals pristine Fe-rich nanocrystals, whereas the Cr-rich domains are apparently amorphous. Elsewhere in the nitrogen-rich case, an isothermal ferrite-to-austenite phase transformation occurred. The austenite transformation product formed martensitically with a high-aspect-ratio plate-like morphology in the Nishiyama–Wassermann orientation relationship to the ferrite matrix.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The mechanisms contributing to contrast in an FSD image are complex, and consist primarily of orientation, atomic density, and/or topographic contrast. The orientation of the diode to the phosphor screen, the number of diodes, their orientation to the sample, beam properties, etc. can lead to strong changes in perceived contrast.

  2. 2.

    Generally, a MAD less than 1 is assumed to be a good fit, though less is always preferred; provided the MAD number is not similar for other candidate structures, the solution is reliable.

  3. 3.

    \(\Delta V_{\text {trans}} = (V_f - V_i) / V_i\) where \(V_i\) and \(V_f\) are the initial and final volumes of the two unit cells with equivalent number of atoms.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the NSF for financial support under Grant Nos. DMR-1104937 and DMR-0922938, and the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS) of the Ohio State University for access to their aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopes. We are also grateful to Dr. Robert E. A. Williams and Prof. David W. McComb for their assistance and helpful comments.

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Dalton, J.C., Ernst, F. & Heuer, A.H. Low-Temperature Nitridation of 2205 Duplex Stainless Steel. Metall Mater Trans A 51, 608–617 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-019-05553-x

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