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The twinning-induced plasticity effect enables designing austenitic Fe-Mn-C-based steels with >70% elongation with an ultimate tensile strength >1 GPa. These steels are characterized by high strain hardening due to the formation of twins and complex dislocation substructures that dynamically reduce the dislocation mean free path. Both mechanisms are governed by the stacking-fault energy (SFE) that depends on composition. This connection between composition and substructure renders these steels ideal model materials for theory-based alloy design: Ab initio-guided composition adjustment is used to tune the SFE, and thus, the strain-hardening behavior for promoting the onset of twinning at intermediate deformation levels where the strain-hardening capacity provided by the dislocation substructure is exhausted. We present thermodynamic simulations and their use in constitutive models, as well as electron microscopy and combinatorial methods that enable validation of the strain-hardening mechanisms.
The influence is investigated of the average valence electron number on the systematic changes of a Ni2MnGa based alloy series. The experimental investigation focuses on an isoelectronic alloy series Ni2Mnx(CrFe)1-x/2Ga for which the average valence electron number is unchanged for any value of x. Based on the changes of physical properties of alloys in this series compared to Ni2MnGa it is argued that local lattice distortions are more relevant for driving the change in alloy characteristics, such as the martensitic phase transition temperature or the ferromagnetic ordering temperature, than the band filling by valence electrons.
The shape memory effect of Ni2MnGa is closely related to the fact that the material undergoes a martensitic phase transition, which results in symmetry reductions and deformations when cooling down. However, there are still substantial uncertainties about the phase diagram in the martensitic phase. Particularly challenging is the determination of those phases, which are characterized by shuffling structures. We have applied density functional theory to this problem, which allows an accurate determination of the potential energy surface as a function of the lattice constants. Based on these results we compute ab initio phonon spectra and discuss in detail how they can be used to extract detailed information about the type of shuffling structures and to systematically and efficiently identify stable atomic configurations.
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