A study was made of the embrittling effects of oxygen on Rene´ 41, a nickel-base alloy hardened by precipitation of gamma prime. In short time tensile tests in air it was found that from 750 to 900 deg C oxygen promoted initiation and rapid propagation of intergranular cracks, while in the absence of oxygen, tensile fractures were transgranular and ductility was much improved. Sensitivity to embrittlement by oxygen decreases with coarsening of gamma prime. When gamma prime is hyperfine, probably less than 100 Å, embrittlement is greatest and follows the predictions of a Petch-Stroh model for the initiation of cracks ahead of pile-ups of dislocations. In accordance with the model, the ductility of Rene´ 41 increased in proportion of the reciprocal of the square roo of grain size. Calculated on the basis of the model, the surface energy of Rene´ 41 in air was 400 ergs/cm2, considerably lower than would be expected for an alloy of nickel in an inert atmosphere.

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