Effects of welding and post-weld heat treatments on nanoscale precipitation and mechanical properties of an ultra-high strength steel hardened by NiAl and Cu nanoparticles

Zengbao Jiao, J. H. Luan, W. Guo, J. D. Poplawsky, C. T. Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of welding and post-weld heat treatment (PWHT) on nanoscale co-precipitation, grain structure, and mechanical properties of an ultra-high strength steel were studied through a combination of atom probe tomography (APT) and mechanical tests. Our results indicate that the welding process dissolves all pre-existing nanoparticles and causes grain coarsening in the fusion zone, resulting in a soft and ductile weld without any cracks in the as-welded condition. A 550 °C PWHT induces fine-scale re-precipitation of NiAl and Cu co-precipitates with high number densities and ultra-fine sizes, leading to a large recovery of strength but a loss of ductility with intergranular failure, whereas a 600 °C PWHT gives rise to coarse-scale re-precipitation of nanoparticles together with the formation of a small amount of reverted austenite, resulting in a great recovery in both strength and ductility. Our analysis indicates that the degree of strength recovery is dependent mainly upon the re-precipitation microstructure of nanoparticles, together with grain size and reversion of austenite, while the ductility recovery is sensitive to the grain-boundary structure. APT reveals that the grain-boundary segregation of Mn and P may be the main reason for the 550 °C embrittlement, and the enhanced ductility at 600 °C is ascribed to a possible reduction of the segregation and reversion of austenite.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
JournalActa Materialia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Mechanical property
  • Precipitation
  • Structure-property relationship
  • Ultra-high strength steel
  • Welding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys

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