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Sub-Grain Scale Digital Image Correlation by Electron Microscopy for Polycrystalline Materials during Elastic and Plastic Deformation


Damage during loading of polycrystalline metallic alloys is localized at or below the scale of individual grains. Quantitative assessment of the heterogeneous strain fields at the grain scale is necessary to understand the relationship between microstructure and elastic and plastic deformation. In the present study, digital image correlation (DIC) is used to measure the strains at the sub-grain level in a polycrystalline nickel-base superalloy where plasticity is localized into physical slip bands. Parameters to minimize noise given a set speckle pattern (introduced by chemical etching) when performing DIC in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) were adapted for measurements in both plastic and elastic regimes. A methodology for the optimization of the SEM and DIC parameters necessary for the minimization of the variability in strain measurements at high spatial resolutions is presented. The implications for detecting the early stages of damage development are discussed.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of GE Global Research and appreciate useful discussions with J. Laflen, A. Loghin, S. Daly, and W. LePage. Remco Guerts (FEI) is also acknowledged for his iFAST contributions and support. The Air Force Center of Excellence (Grant # FA9550-12-1-0445) is also acknowledged for their support. Nicolas Vanderesse is also acknowledged for the development of the OpenDIC software.

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Stinville, J., Echlin, M., Texier, D. et al. Sub-Grain Scale Digital Image Correlation by Electron Microscopy for Polycrystalline Materials during Elastic and Plastic Deformation. Exp Mech 56, 197–216 (2016).

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  • High resolution digital image correlation
  • DIC
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • SEM
  • Slip bands
  • Polycrystalline materials
  • René 88DT
  • Strain localization