A generic term for microstructures formed by diffusionless phase transformation in which the parent and product phases have a specific crystallographic relationship. Martensite is characterized by an acicular pattern in the microstructure in both ferrous and nonferrous alloys. In alloys where the solute atoms occupy interstitial positions in the martensitic lattice (such as carbon in iron), the structure is hard and highly strained; but where the solute atoms occupy substitutional positions (such as nickel in iron), the martensite is soft and ductile. The amount of high-temperature phase that transforms to martensite on cooling depends to a large extent on the lowest temperature attained, there being a rather distinct beginning temperature (Ms) and a temperature at which the transformation is essentially complete (Mf).

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