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Quantitative relationships among processing parameters, microstructure, and material properties are of considerable interest in the context of development of robust processing routes that optimize the required material properties. As a result, the scientific literature contains a large number of experimental and theoretical studies on microstructure-properties relationships. Fracture sensitive mechanical properties such as ductility, ultimate tensile strength, fatigue life, and fracture toughness depend on the average microstructural parameters as well as the distributions of microstructural parameters and their extrema.Development of quantitative relationships between such material properties and microstructural distributions and extrema has received considerably less attention, particularly in the wrought metals and alloys. Accordingly, an important objective of this research is to perform a systematic investigation in this direction.
The dependence of the fracture-sensitive mechanical properties on the microstructural distributions and extrema often leads to substantial variability in these properties: a set of specimens having the same average chemistry, the same average processing history, and the same average microstructural parameters such as volume fractions of different constituents can exhibit substantially different material properties. The present research (i) is concerned with high strength (~ 1000 MPa) high martensite (>50%) dual phase steel where the martensite is a topologically continuous phase (matrix) containing a dispersion of islands of ferrite, and (ii) focuses on understanding the microstructural origins of the variability in fracture sensitive mechanical properties, in particular variability in the room temperature uniaxial tensile ductility. The research involves quantitative microstructure characterization using stereology and digital image processing and quantitative fractography using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and fracture profilometry. The analysis of the quantitative fractographic and microstructural data obtained in this research leads to useful guidelines for reducing the variability in the tensile ductility of the dual phase steel under investigation.