The c/a Ratio in Quenched Fe-C and Fe-N Steels - A Heuristic Story
The body-centered tetragonal (BCT) structure in quenched Fe-C steels is usually illustrated to show a linear change in the c and a axes with an increase in carbon content from 0 to 1.4%C. The work of Campbell and Fink, however, shows that this continuous linear relationship is not correct. Rather, it was shown that the body-centered-cubic (BCC) structure is the stable structure from 0 to 0.6 wt%C with the c/a ratio equal to unity. An abrupt change in the c/a ratio to 1.02 occurs at 0.6 wt%C. The BCT structure forms, and the c/a ratio increases with further increase in carbon content. An identical observation is noted in quenched Fe-N steels. This discontinuity is explained by a change in the transformation process. It is proposed that a two-step transformation process occurs in the low carbon region, with the FCC first transforming to HCP and then from HCP to BCC. In the high carbon region, the FCC structure transforms to the BCT structure. The results are explained with the Engel-Brewer theory of valence and crystal structure of the elements. An understanding of the strength of quenched iron-carbon steels plays a key role in the proposed explanation of the c/a anomaly based on interstitial solutes and precipitates.
T. Chandra, K. Tsuzaki, M. Militzer , C. Ravindran
O. D. Sherby et al., "The c/a Ratio in Quenched Fe-C and Fe-N Steels - A Heuristic Story", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 539-543, pp. 215-222, 2007