Deformation-induced martensite and nanotwins by cryogenic laser shock peening of AISI 304 stainless steel and the effects on mechanical properties
Laser shock peening (LSP) of stainless steel 304 was carried out at room and cryogenic temperature (liquid nitrogen temperature). It was found that the deformation-induced martensite was generated by LSP only when the laser-generated plasma pressure is sufficiently high. Compared to room temperature laser shock peening (RT-LSP), cryogenic laser shock peening (CLSP) generates a higher volume fraction of martensite at the same laser intensity. This is due to the increase in the density of potential embryos (deformation bands) for martensite nucleation by deformation at cryogenic temperature. In addition, CLSP generates a high density of deformation twins and stacking faults. After CLSP, an innovative microstructure, characterised by networks of deformation twins, stacking faults and composite structure (martensite and austenite phases), contributes to material strength and microstructure stability improvement. The combined effect of higher surface hardness and a more stabilised microstructure results in greater fatigue performance improvement of the CLSP samples compared to that of the RT-LSP samples.