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Nanostructured metallic materials with abundant high-angle grain boundaries exhibit high strength and good radiation resistance. While the nanoscale grains induce high strength, they also degrade tensile ductility. We show that a gradient nanostructured ferritic steel exhibits simultaneous improvement in yield strength by 36% and uniform elongation by 50% compared to the homogenously structured counterpart. In situ tension studies coupled with electron backscattered diffraction analyses reveal intricate coordinated deformation mechanisms in the gradient structures. The outermost nanolaminate grains sustain a substantial plastic strain via a profound deformation mechanism involving prominent grain reorientation. This synergistic plastic co-deformation process alters the rupture mode in the post-necking regime, thus delaying the onset of fracture. The present discovery highlights the intrinsic plasticity of nanolaminate grains and their significance in simultaneous improvement of strength and tensile ductility of structural metallic materials.


This is the published version of the Zhongxia Shang et al, Gradient nanostructured steel with superior tensile plasticity.Sci. Adv.9,eadd9780(2023).DOI:10.1126/sciadv.add9780