Influence of Nb on the Microstructure and Fracture Toughness of (Zr0.76Fe0.24)100−xNbx Nano-Eutectic Composites
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMaterials. 2018, 11 1-9. 10.3390/ma11010113
The present study demonstrates the evolution of eutectic microstructure in arc-melted (Zr0.76Fe0.24)100−xNbx (0 ≤ x ≤ 10 atom %) composites containing α-Zr//FeZr2 nano-lamellae phases along with pro-eutectic Zr-rich intermetallic phase. The effects of Nb addition on the microstructural evolution and mechanical properties under compression, bulk hardness, elastic modulus, and indentation fracture toughness (IFT) were investigated. The Zr–Fe–(Nb) eutectic composites (ECs) exhibited excellent fracture strength up to ~1800 MPa. Microstructural characterization revealed that the addition of Nb promotes the formation of intermetallic Zr54Fe37Nb9. The IFT (KIC) increases from 3.0 ± 0.5 MPa√m (x = 0) to 4.7 ± 1.0 MPa√m (x = 2) at 49 N, which even further increases from 5.1 ± 0.5 MPa√m (x = 0) and up to 5.9 ± 1.0 MPa√m (x = 2) at higher loads. The results suggest that mutual interaction between nano-lamellar α-Zr//FeZr2 phases is responsible for enhanced fracture resistance and high fracture strength.