Improvement of structural efficiency in various materials is critically important for sustainable society development and the efficient use of natural resources. Recently, a lot of attention in science and engineering has been attracted to heterogeneous-structure materials because of high structural efficiency. However, strategies for the efficient design of heterogenous structures are still in their infancy therefore demanding extensive exploration. In this work, two-dimensional finite-element models for pure nickel with bimodal distributions of grain sizes having ‘harmonic’ and ‘random’ spatial topological arrangements of coarse and ultrafine-grain areas are developed. The bimodal random-structure material shows heterogeneities in stress–strain distributions at all scale levels developing immediately upon loading, which leads to developing concentrations of strain and premature global plastic instability. The bimodal harmonic-structure material demonstrates strength and ductility significantly exceeding those in the bimodal random-structure as well as expectations from a rule of mixtures. The strain hardening rates also significantly exceed those in homogeneous materials while being primarily controlled by coarse-grain phase at the early, by ultrafine-grain at the later and by their compatible straining at the intermediate stages of loading. The study emphasises the importance of topological ultrafine-/coarse-grain distributions, and the continuity of the ultrafine-grain skeleton in particular.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Metallurgy and Metallic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics