2019 Volume 60 Issue 7 Pages 1270-1282
Grain refinement of materials by severe plastic deformation, investigation and understanding of their properties and phenomena has been a subject of intensive research over the last three decades. Along with the invention and development of these processes it has been recognized, that grain refinement is not indefinite but stagnates for single phase materials. Accordingly, the minimum grain sizes achievable are in the range between 50 and 500 nm. Motivated to find ways to overcome these limitations, effort has been made to understand the reasons behind. Various processes were suggested to cause saturation of grain fragmentation. While all of these assumptions and models were not based on direct observations, recently in-situ approaches allowed significant progress in understanding microstructural evolution and the principle restoration processes during severe straining. It is the aim of this work to recap important earlier findings, reconsider proposed models and to present our current understanding of the processes limiting grain refinement upon severe straining. Further it will be discussed, that similar processes generally occur during deformation of such fine scaled materials. They do not only govern saturation of grain refinement during severe deformation but more important also the mechanical response and performance of these materials. This motivates an in-depth understanding and therefore open questions as well as discrepancies between various experiments will be deliberately highlighted to stimulate further research and thus progress within this area.