Formation mechanism of abnormally large grains in a polycrystalline nickel-based superalloy during heat treatment processing

Xin Wang, Zaiwang Huang, Biao Cai, Ning Zhou, Oxana Magdysyuk, Yanfei Gao, Shesh Srivatsa, Liming Tan, Liang Jiang

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Controlling the final grain size in a uniform manner in powder metallurgy nickel-based superalloys is important since a number of mechanical properties are closely related to it. However, it has been widely documented that powder metallurgy superalloys are prone to suffer from growth of abnormally large grains (ALGs) during supersolvus heat treatment, which is harmful to in-service mechanical performance. The underlying mechanisms behind the formation of ALGs are not yet fully understood. In this research, ALGs were intentionally created using spherical indentation applied to a polycrystalline nickel-based superalloy at room temperature, establishing a deformation gradient underneath the indentation impression, which was quantitatively determined using finite element modeling and synchrotron diffraction. Subsequent supersolvus heat treatment leads to the formation of ALGs in a narrow strain range, which also coincides with the contour of residual plastic strain in a range of about 2%–10%. The formation mechanisms can be attributed to: (1) nucleation sites available for recrystallization are limited, (2) gradient distribution of stored energy across grain boundary. The proposed mechanisms were validated by the phase-field simulation. This research provides a deeper insight in understanding the formation of ALGs in polycrystalline nickel-based superalloy components during heat treatment, when subsurface plastic deformation caused by (mis)handling occurs or small residual strain has been retained from hot/cold working before supersolvus heat treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-298
Number of pages12
JournalActa Materialia
Early online date11 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Nickel-based superalloys
  • Abnormal grain growth
  • Local strain distribution
  • Dislocation density
  • Phase field modeling


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