Femtosecond Visualization of hcp-Iron Strength and Plasticity under Shock Compression

Phys Rev Lett. 2021 Nov 12;127(20):205501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.205501.


Iron is a key constituent of planets and an important technological material. Here, we combine in situ ultrafast x-ray diffraction with laser-induced shock compression experiments on Fe up to 187(10) GPa and 4070(285) K at 10^{8} s^{-1} in strain rate to study the plasticity of hexagonal-close-packed (hcp)-Fe under extreme loading states. {101[over ¯]2} deformation twinning controls the polycrystalline Fe microstructures and occurs within 1 ns, highlighting the fundamental role of twinning in hcp polycrystals deformation at high strain rates. The measured deviatoric stress initially increases to a significant elastic overshoot before the onset of flow, attributed to a slower defect nucleation and mobility. The initial yield strength of materials deformed at high strain rates is thus several times larger than their longer-term flow strength. These observations illustrate how time-resolved ultrafast studies can reveal distinctive plastic behavior in materials under extreme environments.