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Pearlite is a layered combination of cementite (Fe3C) and ferrite (Fe with some C dissolved in
Cementite is harder and more brittle than ferrite. The more cementite, the harder the
steel. (increasing the amount of C in the steel produces more cementite and not more ferrite
because the ferrite is saturated with C at 0.022%)
What is the difference between fine pearlite (thin layers) and coarse pearlite (thick layers)?
What would you expect and why?
Fine pearlite is stronger and harder because:

Strong adherence at the boundary between cementite and ferrite. The ferrite at the
cementite boundary is restricted in its movement. If the layer of ferrite is thin, a higher
percentage of the ferrite is near a boundary.

Phase barriers form a barrier to dislocation movement.

Spheroidite (Fig. 10.10) has less boundary area between cementite and ferrite. The ferrite matrix
makes this phase very ductile, but with low strength and hardness. Notably tough

Hardest and strongest of the microstructures for steel alloy.

Very brittle (with almost no ductility) BCT has relatively few slip systems.

The different densities of austenite and martensite may cause cracking during
quenching for carbon steels with more than 0.5% carbon.
Tempered Martensite
The brittleness of martensite and the internal stresses that arise from quenching make it
impractical for most applications. However, we can take some advantage of the strength of
martensite by subjecting it to a heat treatment called tempering.
How is it done?
Takes place at temperatures below the eutectoid (typically 250-650C)
What is happening?

Diffusion is the key process in tempering

The single phase BCT martensite transforms to two phase ( + Fe3C) tempered
martensite (that actually does not look much like the original martensite at all!)
What does tempered martensite look like?
Small cementite particles distributed within a ferrite matrix (Fig. 10.24). Similar to spheroidite
except the cementite particles in martensite are much smaller.
What are the properties of tempered martensite?
Tempered martensite is strong with some ductility restored. The smaller the cementite particles,
the greater the strength due to the larger boundary area of the particles (similar to fine

pearlite). The particles grow larger as the tempering temperature is increased, making the
material more ductile, but less strong. If tempered for a long time, the structure becomes
spheroiditic (cementite particles are large).
Fine pearlite is harder and stronger than coarse pearlite, which in turn
is harder and stronger than spheroidite.