• microstructure;
  • texture;
  • thermomechanical treatment;
  • local misorientations;
  • kernel average misorientation (KAM);
  • grain orientation spread (GOS);
  • grain boundaries;
  • electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD);
  • zirconium

The main aim of the present work is to study the relation between microstructural features – such as local misorientations, grain orientation gradients and grain boundary structures – and thermomechanical treatment of hexagonal zirconium (Zr702α). Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) topological maps are used to analyze the aforementioned material parameters at the early stages of plastic deformation imposed by channel-die compression, as well as at a partial recrystallization state achieved by brief annealing. The evolution of local misorientations and orientation gradients is investigated using the so-called kernel average misorientation (KAM) and grain orientation spread (GOS) statistics implemented in the TSL OIM data analysis software [TexSEM Laboratories (2004), Draper, UT, USA]. In the case of grain boundaries (GBs) a new method of analysis is presented. As an addition to the classical line segments method, where the grain boundary is represented by line segments that separate particular pairs of neighboring points, an approach that focuses on grain boundary areas is proposed. These areas are represented by sets of EBSD points, which are specially selected from a modified calculation procedure for the KAM. Different evolution mechanisms of intragranular boundaries, low-angle grain boundaries and high-angle grain boundaries are observed depending on the compression direction. The observed differences are consistent with the results obtained from KAM and GOS analysis. It is also concluded that the proposed method of grain boundary characterization seems to be promising, as it provides new and interesting analysis tools such as textures, absolute fractions and other EBSD statistics of the GB areas. This description may be more compatible with a real deformed microstructure, especially for grain boundaries with very small misorientation, which are indeed clustered areas of lattice defect accumulation.