HIGH ENERGY X-RAY STUDY OF DEFECT MEDIATED DAMAGE IN BULK POLYCRYSTALLINE NI SUPERALLOYS
thesisposted on 15.08.2019 by Diwakar Prasad Naragani
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Defects are unavoidable, life-limiting and dominant sites of damage and subsequent failure in a material. Ni-based superalloys are commonly used in high temperature applications and inevitably found to have defects in the form of inclusions, voids and microscopic cracks which are below the resolution of standard inspection techniques. A mechanistic understanding of the role of defects in such industrially relevant bulk polycrystalline material is essential for philosophies of design and durability to follow and ensure structural integrity of components in the inevitable presence of such defects. The current understanding of defect-mediated damage, in bulk Ni superalloys, is limited by experimental techniques that can capture the local micromechanical state of the material surrounding the defect. In this work, we combine mechanical testing with in-situ, non-destructive 3-D X-ray characterization techniques to obtain rich multi-modal datasets at the microscale to interrogate complex defect-microstructure interactions and elucidate the mechanisms of failure around defects. The attenuated X-ray beam, after passage through the material, is utilized through computed micro-tomography to characterize the defects owing to its sensitivity to density differences in the material. The diffracted X-ray beam, after illuminating the material, is employed through high energy diffraction microscopy in various modes to interrogate the evolving micromechanical state around the discovered defects.
Three case studies are performed with specimens made of a Ni-based superalloy specially designed and fabricated to have internal defects in the form of: (i) an inclusion, (ii) a microscopic crack, and (iii) voids. In each case, the grain scale information is investigated to reveal heterogeneity in the local micromechanical state of the material as a precursor for the onset of failure. Models and simulations based on finite element or crystal plasticity are utilized, wherever necessary, to assess the factors essential to the underlying mechanism of failure. In the first case study, the detrimental effects of an inclusion in initiating a crack upon cyclic loading is interrogated and the state of bonding, residual stresses, and geometrical stress concentrations around the inclusion are demonstrated to be of utmost importance. In the second case study, the propagation of a short fatigue crack through the microstructure is examined to reveal the crystallographic nature of crack growth through the (i) alignment of the crack plane with the most active slip system, (ii) the correlation between the crack growth rate and the maximum resolved shear stresses, and (iii) the dependence of the crack growth direction on microplasticity within grains ahead of the crack front. In the third case study, the role of voids in ductile failure under tensile loading is explored to illuminate the activation and operation of distinct mechanisms of inter-void shear and necking under the control of the local state of stress triaxiality and the local plasticity within the grains at critical sites of fracture.
In summary, a grain scale description of the micromechanical state has been unambiguously determined through experiments to examine the heterogeneity around defects in the material. It has enabled us to identify and isolate the nature of factors essential to the activation of specific mechanisms at the onset failure. The grain scale thus provides an ideal physical basis to understand the fundamentals of defect mediated damage and failure instilling trust in the predictive capabilities of models that incorporate the response of the grain structure. The generated datasets can be used to instantiate and calibrate such models at the grain level for higher fidelity.