Hydrogen-enhanced-plasticity mediated decohesion for hydrogen-induced intergranular and “quasi-cleavage” fracture of lath martensitic steels

Akihide Nagao, Mohsen Dadfarnia, Brian P. Somerday, Petros Sofronis, Robert O. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrogen embrittlement of lath martenistic steels is characterized by intergranular and “quasi-cleavage” transgranular fracture. Recent transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses (Nagao et al., 2012a, 2014a, 2014b, 2014c) of samples lifted from beneath fracture surfaces through focused ion beam machining (FIB) revealed a failure mechanism that can be termed hydrogen-enhanced-plasticity mediated decohesion. Fracture occurs by the synergistic action of the hydrogen-enhanced localized plasticity and decohesion. In particular, intergranular cracking takes place by dislocation pile-ups impinging on prior austenite grain boundaries and “quasi-cleavage” is the case when dislocation pile-ups impinge on block boundaries. These high-angle boundaries, which have already weakened by the presence of hydrogen, debond by the pile-up stresses. The micromechanical model of Novak et al. (2010) is used to quantitatively describe and predict the hydrogen-induced failure of these steels. The model predictions verify that introduction of nanosized (Ti,Mo)C precipitates in the steel microstructure enhances the resistance to hydrogen embrittlement. The results are used to discuss microstructural designs that are less susceptible to hydrogen-induced failure in systems with fixed hydrogen content (closed systems).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-430
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Decohesion
  • Hydrogen embrittlement
  • Martensitic steels
  • Plasticity
  • Weakest link statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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