Plenary Speaker: Benoit Appolaire

Benoît Appolaire, University of Lorraine, Nancy (France)

Insights into the role of mechanics on microstructure in metallic materials using phase field models

Prof. Dr. Benoît Appolaire is Professor of Metallurgy at Université de Lorraine in Nancy working on numerical modeling of microstructure evolutions (phase transformation and plasticity) in metallic alloys.


The role played by the microstructures ensuing from phase transformations on the mechanical properties is now very well documented and thoroughly studied, in particular in metallic alloys. Although there is also a large number of works devoted to the reverse, i.e. the influence of mechanics on the microstructure formation and evolution, a general picture is still lacking, in particular when the phase transformations are diffusion-controlled. Indeed, drawing such a general picture requires to address at the same time the issues related to both mechanical behavior and phase transformations, as well as to address new issues arising from the tight coupling between evolving interfaces and evolving strain/stress fields.
Besides the well-known modification of two-phase thermodynamic equilibrium by elasticity, the trends are less obvious concerning the morphological evolutions when the chemical and mechanical driving forces are competing to reduce the overall free energy of the materials.

In this lecture, I will attempt to draw some trends by examining several situations in different types of alloys where the different contributions that mechanics encompasses are decoupled. For that purpose, we will resort to extensive calculations with phase field models that have been specifically developed.
First we will discuss the role of elasticity on the shape selection of precipitates, beyond the classical results of hard precipitates in a soft matrix against soft precipitates in a hard matrix, that are relevant only for isotropic elasticity.
Indeed, we will show how the anisotropy of the elastic energy arising from either the moduli or the eigenstrain is crucial for the shape selection, even for diffusion-controlled transformation at high temperatures where it is usually believed that elasticity is totally relaxed by plasticity. The examples supporting our analysis will concern cuboidal ordered precipitates in Ni-base superalloys and acicular structures in alloys exhibiting allotropic transformation such as Ti alloys, steels or brass.

In a second part, we will show that in many cases, plasticity does not relax totally the elastic strain associated with the phase transformations. As a direct consequence, plasticity may not change qualitatively the shape evolutions driven by elasticity, as it will be illustrated on the rafting of the ordered precipitates in Ni-base superalloys and on the acicular structures, although it can change the kinetics of the processes. However, we will show that in some cases, plasticity may induce shape bifurcations that are difficult to infer with simplified qualitative arguments, as usually done in the literature on diffusion-controlled phase transformations.
We will conclude with a few open questions that we have been able to identify thanks to our phase field calculations, such as the inheritance of plastic strain by the growing phases.