The brittle-to-ductile transition (BDT) behaviour in nickel-free austenitic stainless steel with high nitrogen was investigated. Fall-weight impact tests revealed that Fe-25mass%Cr-1.1mass%N austenitic steel exhibits a sharp BDT behaviour in spite of an fcc alloy. The aspects of plastic deformation after the impact tests indicate that the BDT observed in this austenitic steel is induced by poor ductility at low temperatures as is the same as that in ferritic steels. In order to measure the activation energy for the BDT, the strain rate dependence of the BDT temperature was examined by using four-point bending tests. The weak dependence of the BDT temperature on the strain rate was observed. The Arrhenius plot of the BDT temperature against the strain rate elucidated that the activation energy for the BDT of Fe-25mass%Cr-1.1mass%N is much higher than that of low carbon ferritic steels. The origins of such distinct BDT behaviour and its large value of the activation energy in this high-nitrogen steel are discussed in terms of the reduction of dislocation mobility at low temperatures due to the interaction between glide dislocations and nitrogen solute atoms.
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