Structured heterogeneous materials are ubiquitous in a biological system and are now adopted in structural engineering to achieve tailor-made properties in metallic materials. The present paper is an overview of the unique network type heterogeneous structure called Harmonic Structure (HS) consisting of a continuous three-dimensional network of strong ultrafine-grained (shell) skeleton filled with islands of soft coarse-grained (core) zones. The HS microstructure is realized by the strategic processing method involving severe plastic deformation (SPD) of micron-sized metallic powder particles and their subsequent sintering. The microstructure and properties of HS-designed materials can be controlled by altering a fraction of core and shell zones by controlling mechanical milling and sintering conditions depending on the inherent characteristics of a material. The HS-designed metallic materials exhibit an exceptional combination of high strength and ductility, resulting from optimized hierarchical features in the microstructure matrix. The experimental and numerical results demonstrate that the continuous network of gradient structure in addition to the large degree of microstructural heterogeneity leads to obvious mechanical incompatibility and strain partitioning, during plastic deformation. Therefore, in contrast to the conventional homogeneous (homo) structured materials, synergy effects, such as synergy strengthening, can be obtained in HS-designed materials. This review highlights recent developments in HS-structured materials as well as identifies further challenges and opportunities.
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