Structure and Properties of Metals
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Metals are one of the most widely used types of engineering materials. Some of their properties, e.g. elastic constants, can be directly related to the nature of the metallic bonds between the atoms. On the other hand, macro- and microstructural features of metals, such as point defects, dislocations, grain boundaries, and second phase particles, control their yield, flow, and fracture stress. Images of microstructural elements can be obtained by modern imaging techniques. Modern computer aided methods can be further used to obtain a quantitative description of these microstructures. These methods take advantage of the progress made in recent years in the field of image processing, mathematical morphology and quantitative stereology. Quantitative description of the microstructures are used for modeling processes taking place under the action of applied load at a given temperature and test (service) environment. These model considerations can be illustrated on the example of an austenitic stainless steel, which is an important material for power generating and chemical industry. Reports recently published also show that properties of materials can be significantly modified by the effect of free surface. Examples of such situations include environmental effect on the mechanical properties of materials. Data for an austenitic stainless steel is used to discuss contribution of the free surface to the mechanical properties of metals.
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