Introduction: The aim of this study is to investigate the nanocrystallization of steels caused by the transformation from the austenitic to the martensitic phase induced by a severe plastic deformation (SPD) treatment. In this framework, we applied an air blast shot peening treatment, which is a simple protocol widely used for industrial purposes. Methods: AISI 286 and AISI 316 specimens were peened for different times and polished using diamond pastes in order to remove corrugations higher than 1 mu m. The characterization of the steel surfaces was performed by atomic force microscopy (AFM) operating in contact mode. Additional EDXD measurements were performed to confirm the phase transition. Results and Discussion: An AFM-based characterization at nanometric level of the steel surfaces is provided. When the peening exceeds a threshold time that, as expected, depends on the steel composition, a uniform nanostructuration is detected. It is well known that such rearrangement is associated to the growth of a martensitic phase. To date, AFM has been employed in this field only for few applications and to solve specific problems. On the other hand, our results demonstrate that this is a useful technique for the characterization of hardened surfaces, especially when non-destructive sample preparation treatments are required. Moreover, we show that AFM can be a useful tool also for in situ industrial diagnostics of metallic parts.
AFM for diagnosis of nanocrystallization of steels in hardening processes / G., Pompeo; M., Girasole; G., Longo; A., Cricenti; D., Bailo; F., Ronci; Maras, Adriana; M., Serracino; P. F., Moretti. - In: JOURNAL OF MICROSCOPY. - ISSN 0022-2720. - STAMPA. - 230:2(2008), pp. 218-223. [10.1111/j.1365-2818.2008.01978.x]