The brittle-ductile transition of tungsten single crystals at the micro-scale

J. Ast; J. J. Schwiedrzik; J. Wehrs; D. Frey; M. N. Polyakov; J. Michler; X. Maeder

Materials and Design 152 (2018) 168-180

The loading rate effect on the brittle-ductile transition temperatures of tungsten single crystals at the micro-scale was investigated by microcantilevers with a (100)[001] crack system. Specimens with a length to width to height of 15 μm/4 μm/6 μm were fabricated by focused ion beam milling. At low temperatures (−90 to −25 °C) the samples failed by brittle cleavage fracture, irrespective of the applied loading rate at a fracture toughness of 3.2 MPa·m1/2. With increasing temperatures up to 500 °C and depending on the applied loading rate, the fracture toughness increased and significant crack tip plasticity and dislocation-controlled microcleavage were observed by means of high resolution electron backscatter diffraction measurements performed after testing. With respect to macroscopic specimens, a shift of the brittle-ductile transition to lower temperatures and a significantly lower activation energy of the brittle-ductile transition of 0.36 eV were found. We explain this by the increase in flow stresses due to sample size effects.