Thin film specimens of austenitic 304 stainless steel implanted with 100 keV Xe ions at room temperature were investigated. Microstructural evolution and phase transformation were characterized and analyzed in situ with conventional and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. The phase transformation in a sequence from austenitic γ face-centered cubic (fcc) to hexagonal close-packed (hcp), and then to a martensitic α body-centered cubic (bcc) structure was observed in the implanted specimens. The fraction of the induced α(bec) phase increased with increasing Xe ion fluence. Orientation relationships between the induced α(bec) phase and austenitic γ(fcc) matrix were determined to be (011)α//(111)γ and α//γ. The relationship was independent of the induced process of the martensitic phase transformation for austenitic 304 stainless steel specimen, in agreement with the Kurdjumov-Sachs (K-S) rule. It is suggested that the phase transformation is induced mainly by the formation of the highly pressurized Xe precipitates, which generate a large stress level in stainless steels.
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