Research was carried out to explore the effect of pulsed electron beam irradiation on the behavior of structure and phase state in AISI 310S steel exposed to high-cycle fatigue. A 2.2 times increase in the fatigue life of samples irradiated by electron beams was revealed. The outcomes of scanning and transmission electron microscopic studies suggest the most probable reason for the fracture of steel samples irradiated by a high-intensity electron beam to be microcraters originating on a treated surface and acting as stress risers initiating the propagation of microcracks. The irradiation with a pulsed electron beam causes extremely fast melting of the surface. As a result of the subsequent rapid crystallization, a polycrystalline structure nearly twice as small as an average grain in the untreated steel is formed. Since a surface layer crystallizes rapidly, crystallization cells ranging from 120 to 170 nm develop in the volume of grains. The fatigue testing is shown to be associated with a martensite transformation γ ⇒ ε in the surface layer. One option to intensify a fatigue life increase of the steel in focus is supposed to be the neutralization of crater-forming on a surface treated by electron beams.
Keywords: electron beam treatment; failure; fatigue; steel; structure; surface.