Extracting constitutive stress-strain behavior of microscopic phases by micropillar compression

J. J. Williams, J. L. Walters, M. Y. Wang, Nikhilesh Chawla, A. Rohatgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The macroscopic behavior of metallic materials is a complex function of microstructure. The size, morphology, volume fraction, crystallography, and distribution of a 2nd phase within a surrounding matrix all control the mechanical properties. Understanding the contributions of the individual microconstituents to the mechanical behavior of multiphase materials has proven difficult due to the inability to obtain accurate constitutive relationships of each individual constituent. In dual-phase steels, for example, the properties of martensite or ferrite in bulk form are not representative of their behavior at the microscale. In this study, micropillar compression was employed to determine the mechanical properties of individual microconstituents in metallic materials with "composite" microstructures, consisting of two distinct microconstituents: (I) a Mg-Al alloy with pure Mg dendrites and eutectic regions and (II) a powder metallurgy steel with ferrite and martensite constituents. The approach is first demonstrated in a Mg-Al directionally solidified alloy where the representative stress-strain behavior of the matrix and eutectic phases was obtained. The work is then extended to a dual-phase steel where the constitutive behavior of the ferrite and martensite were obtained. Here, the results were also incorporated into a modified rule-of-mixtures approach to predict the composite behavior of the steel. The constitutive behavior of the ferrite and martensite phases developed from micropillar compression was coupled with existing strength-porosity models from the literature to predict the ultimate tensile strength of the steel. Direct comparisons of the predictions with tensile tests of the bulk dual-phase steel were conducted and the correlations were quite good.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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