Probing the lattice structure of dynamically compressed and released single crystal iron through the alpha to epsilon phase transition

Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 129, Issue 13, April 2021. Experiments using broadband Laue x-ray diffraction (XRD) were used to examine the lattice structure of dynamically compressed [100]-oriented single crystal iron samples at the Dynamic Compression Sector at the Advanced Photon Source. These experiments used 1 [math]m thick iron single crystal samples sandwiched between a polyimide ablator and a polycarbonate window. A 100 J, 10 ns duration laser pulse incident on the polyimide ablator was used to shock compress the iron samples to initial stresses greater than 25 GPa, exceeding the [math] GPa alpha (body-centered-cubic or bcc structure) to epsilon (hexagonal-close-packed or hcp structure) phase transition stress. XRD measurements were performed at various times relative to the shock wave entering the iron sample: early times, [math] ps while the initial shock waves propagated through the iron; intermediate times, after the iron equilibrated with the ablator and window reaching a plateau stress state (12 or 17 GPa) lasting several nanoseconds; and late times, during uniaxial strain release. The early time measurements show that in [math] ps, the high-pressure hcp phase is relaxed with a [math] ratio of 1.61, contrary to previous laser shock experiments where a [math] ratio of 1.7 was inferred. In the plateau stress state and partially released states, XRD measurements showed that the hcp structure retained a [math] ratio of 1.61 with no observable changes in the microstructure. Upon stress release at [math] GPa/ns release rate, the reverse phase transition (hcp to bcc) to the original single crystal orientation (implying a transformation memory effect) was observed to reach completion somewhere between 13 and 11 GPa, indicating little stress hysteresis under rapid uniaxial strain release. A similar memory effect for the reverse hcp to bcc transformation has been previously observed under hydrostatic compression. However, the bcc/hcp orientation relationships differ somewhat between dynamic and static compression experiments, implying that the transformation pathway under uniaxial dynamic strain differs from the Burgers mechanism.