Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics


Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Hamouda Ghonem


Low carbon steel is the most common grade of structural steel used; it has carbon content of 0.05% to 0.25% and very low content of alloying elements. It is produced in great quantities and provides material properties that are acceptable for many engineering applications, particularly in the construction industry in which low carbon steel is widely used as the strengthening phase in civil structures. The overall goal of this dissertation was to investigate the deformation response of A572 grade 50 steel when subjected to impact loading. This steel has a 0.23% by weight carbon content and has less than 2% additional alloying elements. The deformation mechanisms of this steel under shock loading conditions include both dislocation motion and twin formation. The goal of this work was achieved by performing experimental, analytical and numerical research in three integrated tasks. The first is to determine the relationship between the evolution of deformation twins and the impact pressure. Secondly, a stress criterion for twin nucleation during high strain rate loading was developed which can account for the strain history or initial dislocation density. Lastly, a method was applied for separating the effects of dislocations and twins generated by shock loading in order to determine their role in controlling the flow stress of the material. In this regard, the contents of this work have been categorically organized.

First, the active mechanisms in body centered cubic (BCC) low carbon steel during shock loading have been determined as being a composed of the competing mechanisms of dislocations and deformation twins. This has been determined through a series of shock loading tests of the as-received steel. The shock loading tests were done by plate impact experiments at several impact pressures ranging from 2GPa up to 13GPa using a single stage light gas gun. A relationship between twin volume fraction and impact pressure was determined and an analytical model was utilized to simulate the shock loading and twin evolution for these loading conditions.

The second part of this research ties into the modeling efforts. Within the model for predicting twin volume fraction is a twin growth equation and a constant describing the stress at which the twin nucleation will occur. By using a constant value for the twin nucleation stress modeling efforts fail to accurately predict the growth and final twin volume fraction. A second shock loading experimental study combined with high strain rate compression tests using a split Hopkinson pressure bar were completed to determine a twin nucleation stress equation as a function of dislocation density. Steel specimens were subjected to cold rolling to 3% strain and subsequently impacted using the gas gun at different pressures. The increase in dislocation density due to pre-straining substantially increased the twin nucleation stress indicating that twin nucleation stress in dependent upon prior strain history. This has been explained in terms of the velocity and generation rates of both perfect and partial dislocations. An explicit form of the critical twin nucleation stress was developed and parameters were determined through plate impact tests and low temperature (77K) SHPB compression tests.

The final component in studying deformation twin mechanisms in BCC steel extends the research to the post-impact mechanical properties and how the twin volume fraction affects the dynamic flow stress. Compression tests between 293K and 923K at an average strain rate of 4700 s-1 were completed on the as-received and 3% pre-strained steels in both the initial condition and after being impacted at pressures of 6GPa and 11GPa. Results of the experimental testing were used in a thermal activation model in order to distinguish separate components in the microstructure contributing to the enhanced flow stress caused by the shock loading. It has been shown that the dislocations generated from shock loading are equivalent to those produced under lower rate straining and the addition of deformation twins in the microstructure contribute to the athermal stress by adding to the long range barriers.



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