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Cryo-quenched Fe–Ni–Cr alloy decorative steel single crystals II: Alloy phases, structure, hardness, tensile, tribologica...

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Journal of Alloys and Compounds
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We have previously reported (Boatner et al., J. Alloys Compd. 691 (2017) 666–671) on the discovery, formation, processing, and application of a new decorative ternary steel alloy and on its use in a wide range of practical applications including: custom and commercial knives, art objects, jewelry, electronics, and furniture. This decorative property results when polished single crystals of the 70 wt%Fe-15 wt%Ni-15 wt% Cr austenitic alloy are cryo-quenched into the martensitic phase resulting in the formation of a three-dimensional raised pattern of mixed austenitic/martensitic laths. These laths propagate across large dimensions of the material due to the absence of grain boundaries in the single crystal. The macroscopic optically reflective 3-D decorative pattern reproduces the structural symmetry inherent in the single-crystal orientation. This pattern results solely from the metallurgical phase properties of the ternary alloy and is completely distinct from the properties of Damascus steels or more modern so-called pattern-welded steels. Here we use X-ray diffraction, nanoindentation, hardness measurements/scratch testing, tribological measurements, and alloy resistivity and magnetization methods to obtain a more fundamental and comprehensive study of the effects of the austenitic/martensitic phase transition on the structural and physical properties of the 70 wt%Fe-15 wt%Ni-15 wt% Cr alloy. These results reveal new insight into irreversible phenomena that are associated with the inhibited phase transition on heating of the two-phase, mixed austenitic/martensitic structure that is formed subsequent to cryo-quenching the alloy crystal to 77 K.