Accurate description of materials requires the most advanced atomic-scale techniques from both experimental and theoretical areas. In spite of numerous available techniques, however, the experimental study of the atomic-scale properties and phenomena even in simple solids is rather difficult. Iron and its alloys (including steels) are among the most important engineering materials due to their excellent mechanical properties. In these systems, the above challenges become more complex due to the interplay between the structural, chemical, andmagnetic effects. On the other hand, advanced computational methods based on density functional theory (DFT) ensure a proper platform for studying the fundamental properties of materials from first-principles theory. The present thesis belongs to the latter category. We use advanced theoretical tools to give a systematic description of Fe and a series of Fe-rich alloys in the ferromagnetic (FM) body-centered-cubic (bcc), paramagnetic (PM) bcc, and PM face-centered-cubic (fcc) structures. For solving the basic DFT equations for steel alloys, we adopt the all-electron exact muffin-tin orbitals (EMTO) method in combination with the coherent-potential approximation (CPA) and the disordered local magnetic moment (DLM) model.
We start by assessing our theoretical tools in the case of Fe. For the FM state, we find that there is a magnetic transition close to the ground state volume of bcc Fe, which is explained by the peculiarmagnetic band structure. We conclude that the common equation of state functions can not capture the physics of this magnetic transition, leading to serious underestimation of theoretical bulk modulus of Fe. When the above effect is properly taken into account, theory is shown to reproduce the low-temperature experimental bulk properties (equation of state and elastic parameters) of FM bcc Fe within ∼ 1% for the volume and ∼7% for the elastic constants.
Using the EMTO-CPA-DLM picture, in contrast to previous theoretical predictions, we demonstrate that the competing high-temperature cubic phases of PM Fe correspond to two distinct total energy minima in the tetragonal (Bain) configurational space. Both fcc and bcc lattices are dynamically stable, and at static conditions the fcc structure is found to be the thermodynamically stable phase. When the thermal expansion is taken into account, our theoretical bulk properties calculated for PM Fe agree well with the available experimental data. Increasing temperature is predicted to stabilize the bcc (δ) phase against the fcc (γ) one because of the shallow energy minimum around the bcc structure.
The calculated composition-dependent equilibriumlattice constants, single-crystal elastic constants Cij(c) (here c stands for the amount of alloying additions), and polycrystalline elastic parameters of FM bcc Fe show good agreement with former theoretical and available experimental data, implying that the employed theoretical approach is suitable to calculate the elastic properties of FM Fe alloys. For FM bcc Fe alloys, all impurities considered in this thesis (Al, Si, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, and Rh) enlarge the equilibrium lattice parameter and accordingly decrease the C11(c), C12(c), and C′(c) elastic constants. However, a peculiar phenomenon appears for C44(c). Namely, in spite of increasing volume, Al, Si, V, Cr, and Mn are found to increase C44(c), whereas the alloying effects of Co, Ni, and Rh are small. The anomalous alloying effect in C44(c) isshown to originate from the particular electronic structure of FM bcc Fe. The complex composition dependence of C44(c) is reflected in the polycrystalline properties of FM Fe as well.
Unlike for FM bcc Fe, both positive and negative alloying effects appear for the theoretical equilibrium lattice parameters, single-crystal and polycrystalline elastic properties of PM bcc and fcc Fe. For many elastic parameters and binary systems considered in this thesis, alloying element induces opposite effects in fcc and bcc phases. In other words, the alloying effects on the elastic properties of PM Fe-based alloys show strong structure dependence. While neither the volume nor the electronic effect can explain the calculated trends of C′(c), we find that there is a general correlation between alloying effects on the lattice stability and C′(c). With a few exceptions, alloying elements have much larger effects on FM bcc Fe than on PM fcc Fe. A slightly larger alloying effect appears on PM fcc Fe compared to PM bcc Fe.
According to the calculated fundamental properties, we also estimate the relative hardness of Fe alloys via two phenomenological solid-solution strengthening mechanisms. In those caseswhere experimental data are available, the predicted solid-solution strengthening effects are in line with the observations. The metastable Mg-doped Fe alloys surpass all rival binaries in density and solid-solution strengthening effects. The Fe-Cr and Fe-Cr-Ni alloys containing a few percent of Mg are also predicted to possess unusually high solid-solution hardening and low density compared to the host alloys. These attributes make theMg-bearing stainless steels very promising candidates for many applications, such as the high-strength and light-weight designs desired by for example the automotive industry.
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology , 2011. , 74 p.
Magyari-Köpe, Blanka, Dr.