Tungsten heavy alloys (WHAs) are a type of ductile phase toughened alloy that are becoming increasingly interesting as an alternative to polycrystalline tungsten for fusion reactor plasma facing material components due to their balanced strength and ductility. To justify their use in the extremely harsh environment of a fusion reactor, understanding detailed microstructural features of WHAs associated with their mechanical property changes is necessary. A 90W-7Ni-3Fe WHA alloy has been chosen to investigate the effect of thermomechanical treatment and microstructural manipulation on the overall effectiveness of deformation accommodation in these bi-phase metallic composites. Both in-situ tensile testing and 3D microstructural analysis of the samples reveal a predominance of microcracking at tungsten grain boundaries that are blunted and arrested by the ductile phase, while there remains little to no instances of interfacial debonding. Thermomechanical treatment of this alloy is found to alter the spherical brittle phase domains into elongated plates, drastically reducing the ductile phase connectivity, and changing the nature of material deformation. Characterization of the ductile phase toughening mechanisms in these materials has provided deeper insight into the underlying physics governing material behavior in these alloys; revealing a surprising interfacial strength between the different phases.
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