Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 55, Issue 11, pp 4926–4939 | Cite as

Thermal stability of nanogradient microstructure produced by surface mechanical rolling treatment in Zircaloy-4

  • Chao Xin
  • Dan Yang
  • Qiaoyan SunEmail author
  • Lin XiaoEmail author
  • Jun Sun
Metals & corrosion


A nano-/ultrafine grain gradient microstructure, which is composed of high-angle grain boundaries (HAGBs) and low-angle grain boundaries or subgrains of dislocation–twin, was fabricated in Zircaloy-4 using surface mechanical rolling treatment (SMRT). Thermal stability of gradient microstructure has been investigated through characterizing the evolution of microstructure during post-SMRT annealing treatment from 400 to 600 °C using optical microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Experimental results show that the gradient microstructure exhibits a good thermal stability at 400 °C, since the overall grain size remains similar, except a decrease in dislocation density due to recovery. In comparison, a hierarchical microstructure is formed after annealing at 600 °C. An obvious grain growth was observed at the depth of 50 μm. The activation energy for grain growth of nanograined Zircaloy-4 is estimated to be ~ 161 kJ/mol between 400 and 600 °C. Nano-/ultrafine grains predominantly consisting of HAGBs have the highest thermal stability. Both yield strength and ultimate tensile strength of Zircaloy-4 decrease due to anneal, specifically at 600 °C.



The authors gratefully thank the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51671158, 51621063, 51471129), 973 Program of China (2014CB644003), and the 111 Project 2.0 (PB2018008).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Mechanical Behavior of MaterialsXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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