The proeutectoid cementite transformation in steels
A comprehensive, critical, and up to date review is presented for the proeutectoid cementite transformation in steels. It is believed that many of the new findings, features, and concepts presented here for this classic phase transformation in steels serve as a model which may be more broadly applicable to test against many other phase transformations systems as well. There were a number of early investigations of cementite morphology, and this review considers those early results in light of many newer studies that provide critical new insight into cementite morphologies in both two and three dimensions. A number of different orientation relationships (ORs) between proeutectoid cementite and the austenite matrix from which it forms have been reported in the literature, in some cases leading to confusion, and they are critically evaluated here, as are the habit plane, growth direction, and interfacial structure of various morphologies of proeutectoid cementite. Quantitative experimental and theoretical investigations of the growth kinetics of the proeutectoid cementite transformation are considered next, and the nucleation site of proeutectoid cementite in austenite is also discussed in some detail. This review considers all of these issues in a critical way in which differences, commonalities, important features, and redundancies are sorted out, in order to present a unified picture that will add some clarity to this subject. The different features and issues of this transformation that are considered in detail throughout this review are finally brought together in a comprehensive way in the last major section of this paper on ‘Formation mechanism(s) of proeutectoid cementite’, in order to provide a complete, modern view of the formation of proeutectoid cementite from austenite. To the best knowledge of the present authors, before this review a thorough assessment of this classic phase transformation in steels had not been undertaken since 1962, when Professor Hubert I. Aaronson covered this topic in a section of the book entitled ‘The Decomposition of Austenite by Diffusional Processes’. In large part due to a number of ground breaking new findings on the proeutectoid cementite transformation since then (particularly in the last decade), it is very timely for a new review on this topic.