Journal Highlight: Quantitative determination of carbon concentration profiles by GD-OES for the study of decarburization in low-carbon steels

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  • Published: Mar 1, 2016
  • Author: spectroscopyNOW
  • Channels: Atomic
thumbnail image: Journal Highlight: Quantitative determination of carbon concentration profiles by GD-OES for the study of decarburization in low-carbon steels
The quantification of decarburization induced during the annealing process for the fabrication of electrical steels was carried out using glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy.

Quantitative determination of carbon concentration profiles by GD-OES for the study of decarburization in low-carbon steels

Surface and Interface Analysis, 2016, 48, 73-81
Henrique Duarte Alvarenga, Nele Van Steenberge, Chris Xhoffer, Patrick Steegstra, Jilt Sietsma and Herman Terryn

Abstract: In this study, the quantification of decarburization induced during the annealing process for the fabrication of electrical steels was carried out using glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES). Different calibration methods, based on external and internal standard references, were examined to optimize the quantification of carbon concentration. Accurate calibration curves for carbon at low concentration ranges were achieved by the use of carbon intensity calibrated by the internal reference, i.e. iron intensity line. This methodology was found to be beneficial for long GD-OES measurements, providing a better correction over changes in the overall emission intensity with the sputter time. The good depth resolution obtained by the GD-OES technique enabled the identification of specific features in the steel microstructure related to carbide coarseness. Quantitative carbon concentration profiles were obtained by GD-OES to evaluate the decarburization effect on the microstructure of low-carbon steels considering different initial microstructures. The effect of the spatial distribution of carbides in these microstructures on the decarburization kinetics was also studied. Through quantitative determination of carbon elemental profiles by GD-OES, information about the morphology of the cementite in the microstructure and its development in relation to decarburization was acquired. The depth of decarburization can accurately be determined. On the basis of the global results, GD-OES thus emerged as being a fast and reliable technique for a better understanding of decarburization kinetics.

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