Precipitation in Ti-Nb Al-killed microalloyed HSLA steels (Ti/N weight ratio from 4.4 to 1) was investigated in both the as-rolled and the normalised conditions using analytical electron microscopy including parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy (PEELS). An extensive formation of heterogeneously nucleated complex (Ti,Nb)(C,N) particles down to 10 nm in size was observed. The core of such a complex particle is based on TiN and has a spherical, cubic or cruciform shape. The N/(Ti+Nb) atomic ratio in the core is similar to the average value in the steel whereas the Nb/Ti ratio is much smaller than the average value and not proportional to it. Many of the cores have caps in the form of epitaxial overgrowths based on NbC. Their composition changes from Nb(C,N) to (Nb,Ti)C as the N/Ti ratio decreases. The formation of these complex particles and their detailed morphology are controlled by the processing conditions as well as the overall composition.
- electron energy loss spectroscopy
- energy dispersive X-ray analysis
- microalloyed steels