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In an effort to understand the role various elements play on the temper embrittlement of low alloy steels, chemical analyses of fracture surfaces of nonembrittled and embrittled steels are conducted using Auger electron spectroscopy. The alloying elements, nickel and chromium, and trace elements antimony and tin segregated to grain boundaries during the embrittling treatment. No segregation was detected in nonembrittled steels. An attempt is made to relate the segregation of various elements and the observed embrittlement. The nature and extent of segregation is determined by ion sputtering experiments followed by Auger spectroscopic analysis. The segregation of impurity and alloying elements is examined considering both the Gibbsian and nonequilibrium models for segregation. A model is proposed to explain the observed concentration profiles. The effect of solute segregation on the grain boundary embrittlement is discussed in terms of true surface energy and plastic strain energy criteria.
spectroscopy, Auger electrons, grain boundaries, fracture surfaces, embrittlement, separation, sputtering, alloy steels, iron, tin, nickel, antimony, phosphorus, chromium, arsenic, carbon
Visiting assistant research professor, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.
Professor and head, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.