Needs for steel designs of ultra-high strength and excellent ductility have been an important issue in worldwide automotive industries to achieve energy conservation, improvement of safety, and crashworthiness qualities. Because of various drawbacks in existing 1.5-GPa-grade steels, new development of formable cold-rolled ultra-high-strength steels is essentially needed. Here we show a plausible method to achieve ultra-high strengths of 1.0~1.5 GPa together with excellent ductility above 50% by actively utilizing non-recrystallization region and TRansformation-Induced Plasticity (TRIP) mechanism in a cold-rolled and annealed Fe-Mn-Al-C-based steel. We adopt a duplex microstructure composed of austenite and ultra-fine ferrite in order to overcome low-yield-strength characteristics of austenite. Persistent elongation up to 50% as well as ultra-high yield strength over 1.4 GPa are attributed to well-balanced mechanical stability of non-crystallized austenite with critical strain for TRIP. Our results demonstrate how the non-recrystallized austenite can be a metamorphosis in 1.5-GPa-grade steel sheet design.
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