There have been numerous efforts to develop creep-resistant materials strengthened by incoherent particles at high temperatures and stresses in response to future energy needs for steam turbines in thermal-power plants. However, the microstructural instability of the incoherent-particle-strengthened ferritic steels limits their application to temperatures below 900 K. Here, we report a novel ferritic alloy with the excellent creep resistance enhanced by coherent hierarchical precipitates, using the integrated experimental (transmission-electron microscopy/scanning-transmission-electron microscopy, in-situ neutron diffraction, and atom-probe tomography) and theoretical (crystal-plasticity finite-element modeling) approaches. This alloy is strengthened by nano-scaled L2 1 -Ni 2 TiAl (Heusler phase)-based precipitates, which themselves contain coherent nano-scaled B2 zones. These coherent hierarchical precipitates are uniformly distributed within the Fe matrix. Our hierarchical structure material exhibits the superior creep resistance at 973 K in terms of the minimal creep rate, which is four orders of magnitude lower than that of conventional ferritic steels. These results provide a new alloy-design strategy using the novel concept of hierarchical precipitates and the fundamental science for developing creep-resistant ferritic alloys. The present research will broaden the applications of ferritic alloys to higher temperatures.
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