Investigation on microstructural evolution and hardening mechanism in dilute Zr[sbnd]Nb binary alloys

H. L. Yang, Y. Matsukawa, S. Kano, Z. G. Duan, K. Murakami, H. Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, the microstructural changes induced by doping of Nb in Zr were investigated by the combined utilization of electron backscatter diffraction and electron transmission microscopy techniques, followed by the correlated hardening mechanism being elucidated based on the obtained microstructural parameters. Microstructural characterization results revealed that microstructural changes caused by doping of Nb in Zr were mainly embodied via two aspects: reducing the matrix α-Zr grain size and increasing the amount of β-Nb particles. β-phase stabilizing effect, dragging effect and pinning effect introduced and enhanced by Nb addition, worked together to significantly reduce the grain size in Zr[sbnd]Nb alloys. β-Nb particles were firstly observed in Zr0.5Nb specimen with the fairly low number density of ∼2.0 × 1018/m3, then this value explosively increased to ∼3.3 × 1020/m3 for Zr2Nb specimen. In addition, hardness was increased with an increase in the Nb content. The hardening contributions from solid solution hardening, grain boundary hardening and precipitation hardening were quantitatively estimated as per the obtained microstructural parameters. Results inferred that solid solution hardening contributed the majority when the Nb atoms were solid dissolved (≤0.5 wt%), whereas the precipitation hardening surpassed any other factors when the β-Nb particles were steadily precipitated (≥1 wt%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1


  • Hardening mechanism
  • Microstructure
  • Precipitates
  • Zr[sbnd]Nb alloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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