Advanced materials—those that have atypical sizes, microstructures, deformation mechanisms, and/or material responses—are increasingly important in the development of innovative technologies. While the atypical characteristics of advanced materials enable major technological breakthroughs, they simultaneously present new challenges to overcome in developing and certifying those technologies. To accelerate the deployment of advanced materials, significant advancements in modeling and characterization are needed that enable researchers to understand and predict material behaviors.
Modern experimental techniques such as three-dimensional X-ray diffraction (3DXRD) offer the ability to acquire microstructural information in ways that have never been possible before. In this study, researchers from Colorado School of Mines and the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source use 3DXRD to study martensitic phase transformations in nickel-titanium shape memory alloys. The results reveal both strengths and weaknesses of long-accepted micromechanical theories of martensitic transformations. The 3DXRD techniques and analyses presented in this work provide nondestructive means to study the complicated microstructure evolution occurring beneath the surface of shape memory alloys and other advanced materials.