2019 Volume 59 Issue 1 Pages 161-168
The microstructure and hardness of martensite in Fe–C and Fe–N alloys with up to 7.5 at% contents of carbon and nitrogen, respectively, were compared. Their difference in hardness was discussed based on four strengthening mechanisms. The martensitic structures of Fe–C and Fe–N alloys with equal contents of carbon and nitrogen, respectively, were nearly identical, except for the amount of retained austenite. Furthermore, Fe–C alloy was considerably harder than Fe–N alloy. This discrepancy gradually increased with carbon and nitrogen contents. The enhanced hardness of Fe–C alloy martensite was attributed to its higher dislocation density and the stronger pinning force of interstitial carbon atoms on dislocations.