Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Sigma Phase: Nucleation and Growth

Version 1 : Received: 5 December 2018 / Approved: 6 December 2018 / Online: 6 December 2018 (16:14:18 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Fonseca, G.S.; Mendes, P.S.N.; Silva, A.C.M. Sigma Phase: Nucleation and Growth. Metals 2019, 9, 34. Fonseca, G.S.; Mendes, P.S.N.; Silva, A.C.M. Sigma Phase: Nucleation and Growth. Metals 2019, 9, 34.


Duplex Stainless Steels (DSS) and Superduplex Stainless Steels (SDSS) are an important class of stainless steels because they combine the benefits of austenite and ferrite phases, resulting in steels with better mechanical properties and higher corrosion resistance. Due to these characteristics are widely employed in various industries. However, the appearance of deleterious phases in their microstructure impairs the properties of DSS and SDSS. Among the deleterious phases, the main one is the sigma phase (σ), which can be nucleated when the steel is exposed to the temperature range between 650 °C and 900 °C, reducing its toughness and resistance to corrosion. In a previous work, Fonseca and collaborators used two descriptors of the microstructural path to analyze the formation of sigma phase (σ), SV, interfacial area per unit volume between sigma phase and austenite, and <λ>, mean chord length of sigma, both in function of the VV, volume fraction of sigma, known in the literature as microstructural partial path (MP). In this work, the contiguity ratio is applied for the first time to describe the microstructural path in the study of sigma phase precipitation in SDSS. The contiguity ratio showed that the distribution of the ferrite/sigma boundaries is homogeneous. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that one has a uniform distribution of sigma phase nuclei within the ferrite. About the kinetics of sigma phase formation, the DSS can be described by the classical JMAK equation, whereas for the SDSS, the kinetics tends to follow the Cahn model for grain edge nucleation. Finally, we present the 3D reconstruction of the sigma phase in SDSS. The results demonstrate that the sigma phase nucleates at the edges of the ferrite/austenite interfaces. Moreover, the sigma phase grows consuming the ferrite, but it is not fully interconnected.


Sigma Phase, Contiguity, Kinetics, Cahn models, 3D Reconstruction


Chemistry and Materials Science, Metals, Alloys and Metallurgy

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