Enabling high resolution strain mapping in zirconium alloys

David Lunt, Alberto Orozco-Caballero, Rhys Thomas, Peter Honniball, Philipp Frankel, Michael Preuss, João Quinta da Fonseca

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    High Resolution Digital Image Correlation (HRDIC) has been established recently as a novel displacement mapping technique during mechanical loading experiments to quantify strain localisation down to the level of individual slip traces. This is achieved by the creation of a nano-scale gold pattern naturally formed during remodelling of a thin gold layer that was sputtered onto the region of interest. To date, the gold remodelling is carried out in a water vapourisation environment, which excludes the technique to be applied to materials that readily form noticeable oxide layers in such environments. The current paper describes a recently developed gold remodelling technique using a styrene-argon environment at substantially lower temperatures than the water-vapour based technique. The material used in the present work is a zirconium alloy where we first demonstrate the problem of oxide formation during remodelling in water vapour and the benefit of the modified remodelling procedure. The error associated with the spatial drift was assessed for different interrogation window sizes followed by detailed analysis of the subsequent strain maps produced using the styrene remodelled patterns after tensile deformation to nominal applied strains of ~3.5% and ~7.0%. The level of detail captured demonstrate the suitability of styrene-argon-based remodelling for materials like Zr alloys with the strain maps showing clear strain patterning on both a transgranular and single grain scale with the possibility of strain across a single slip trace.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMaterials Characterization
    Early online date9 Mar 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • High-Resolution Digital Image Correlation (HRDIC)
    • Zirconium alloys
    • plasticity
    • gold remodelling
    • strain localisation
    • nanoscale


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