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MATHEMATICS

OF THE

PORTEVIN-LE
P.

CHATELIER

EFFECT*

PENNING?

The Portevin-Le
Chatelier effect is associated with an inhomogeneous plastic flow in the tensile
specimen. It is shown mathematically that the strain rate at any point in the specimen must make jumps
as a function of time, whenever the stress as a function of strain rate, for given strain, goes through a maximum and minimum.
Two types of solutions are considered:
the region, where appreciable deformation
takes place, either moves continuously or hops through the specimen. Small strain rates in front of the
moving band cause a strain gradient in the specimen. The deformation band moves in the direction of
increasing strain.
ETUDE

MATHEMATIQUE

DE

LEFFET

PORTEVIN-LE

CHATELIER

Leffet Portevin-Le
Chatelier est associi: a une deformation
plastique non homogene dans un
echantillon de traction.
Lauteur montre mathematiquement
que la variation en fonction du temps
de la vitesse de deformation en nimporte quel point de lechantillon doit presenter des discontinuites
au cas que la contrainte, pour une deformation
don&e,
passe par un maximum
et un minimum
en fonction de la vitesse de deformation.
Deux types de solutions sont considerees: la region oti une
deformation appreciable se produit, ou bien se deplace de fapon continue, ou bien effectue des sauts
a travers
lechantillon.
Des vitesses
de deformation
faibles en avant
de la bande
qui se
d&place produisent un gradient de deformation dans leohantillon.
La bande de deformation se deplace
dans le sens des deformations croissantes.
ZUR

MATHEMATIK

DES

PORTEVIN-LE

CHATELIER-EFFEKTS

Der Portevin-Le Chatelier-Effekt steht im Zusammenhang mit Inhomogenitiiten des plastischen Fliessens in zugverformten
Proben.
Es wird mathematisch gezeigt, da3 die Zeitabhangigkeit
der Abgleitgeschwindigkeit an jedem Punkt der Probe immer dann einen Sprung machen mu& wenn die Spannung
als Funktion der Abgleitgeschwindigkeit
(bei vorgegebener Abgleitung) durch ein Maximum oder Minimum geht. Zwei Liisungstypen werden betrachtet:
Der Bereich mit starker Verformung bewegt sich
entweder kontinuierlich oder er hiipft durch die Probe. Kleine Abgleitgesohwindigkeiten
vor dem
wandernden Deformationsband
ftihren zu einem Dehnungsgradienten
in der Probe. Das Deformationsband bewegt sich in Richtung zunehmender Abgleitung.

1. INTRODUCTION

The Portevin-Le
nomenon,

with the properties of the tensile machine, may lead to

Chatelier effect refers to the phe-

that alloys

do not show a smooth

strain rates (Pig. 1). If the cross-head

Chatelier effect as described

velocity

2. ASSUMPTIONS

and

The relation between stress and time, o(t), produced

of the

by measurement,

there may appear ir-

depends on the type of tensile ma-

regular humps and valleys (type A) or a very regular

chine used in the experiment.

alternation of stress increases and decreases (type B).


It has been shown(1~2) in a number of cases, that jerky

constant imposed strain rate is considered.

flow is accompanied
i.e. appreciable
band.

by inhomogeneous

deformation

the specimen;

from one position

serration corresponds
In the literature

to an adjacent

one.

(e.g. Ref.

flow is

solute atoms and

* Received March 24, 1972.


t Laboratorium voor Metaalkunde, Teohnische Hogeschool,
Rotterdamseweg
137, Delft, The Netherlands.
METALLURGICA,

VOL.

20,

Assuming

the following

all plastic

variations

in

relation between the local

strain rate 6 and the stress rate 5 must hold:

MS+

One

dislocations.
In this paper the processes on atomic
scale are not considered. The aim is to show mathematically that certain conditions imposed on the relation
between stress, strain and strain rate, in combination

M, in which the elasticity

is included.

d ax/L =

volL,

CL)

3) this jerky

between

The cross-

wO. The machine is supposed

E, to be small and neglecting

cross-section,

to one hop.

related to the interaction

ACTA

strains,

of a

new band or from minor inhomogeneities in the specimen. In type B the band hops through the specimen,
usually

of the specimen

through

of one band and the initiation

with a constant velocity

to have a finite compliance,

the humps and valleys may arise from

the disappearance

In this paper only a

heads of the tensile machine are made to move apart

strain rates only occur in a narrow

In type A the band moves continuously

above.

stress-

strain curve in a certain range of temperatures


tensile machine is kept constant,

the Portevin-Le

OCTOBER

1972

where x is the coordinate


men, L.

along the length of the speci-

The integral is necessary

because of the in-

homogeneity in strain rate. Relation (1) is referred to


as the machine condition.
Note that the stress rate is
negative, whenever the average strain rate exceeds
the imposed strain rate.
Once the machine condition is given, the observed
relation o(t) is uniquely determined by the intrinsic
properties of the material. The stress is considered to
1169

ACTA

1170

METALLURGICA,

VOL.

20,

1972

and a continuously moving one. Accordingly we shall


state the dependence of the strain on x and calculate
the variation of the strain and the stress with time
from the remaining nonlinear, second order differential
equation.
The material characteristic is further simplified by
the assumption that cr(e, i) is separated in the variables
at least for the small range of strains, that has to be
considered while one band is passing. On the same
basis the coefficient for strain hardening is kept constant (positive). Accordingly we write:
CT =

& +

F(i).

-t
FIG. 1. Jerky

flow,

characteristic
for
Chatelier effect.

the

Portevin-Le

be the answer, given by the material, to the applied


strain, strain rate, stress rate, temperature, time, etc.
To keep the problem as simple as possible, the number
of independent variables is kept small. This reduces
the number of possible mechanisms on atomic scale
included in the treatment. For example, by omitting
the parameter time as explicit variable, the effects due
to strain ageing are left out of consideration. A
similar argument holds for the stress, that is considered
as a constant throughout the specimen, in spite of the
fact that stress concentrations will be present at the
boundaries of the deformation band. We shall assume :
0 = b(&, i),

(2)

i.e. the stress is a function of strain and strain rate


only.
Together with the machine condition this material
characteristic determines the stress as a function of
time. From the material characteristic (2) follows:
ao
d=-_8+-&,
a&

As long as F rises monotonously with 6 the deformation remains homogeneous, the normal case. It will
be shown, that in case F goes through a maximum and
a minimum with rising d, the local strain rate is no
longer a continuous function of time but has to make
jumps in agreement with the idea of inhomogeneous
deformation. It is not necessary to further specify the
function F. The type of F-curve considered is shown
in Fig. 2. The coefficient for strain rate hardening is
negative for strain rates between 2, and g,. This type
of curve has been suggested earlier.c4)
In Section 3 the hopping band is considered ; in
in Section 4 the continuously moving band. The
effect of the deformation rates smaller than .$, referred to as creep, is neglected in those sections, but
is dealt with in some detail in Section 5. Finally it is
indicated in Section 6, how the depth of the valley in
F, CT,,(see Fig. 2) can be determined from experimental data.

aa ..

ai

where aa/& is the strain hardening and i%/& the


strain-rate hardening. Substitution of this result in
the machine condition leads to:

ii!+MgE+

si
CL)

axp =

u&.

(3)

The solution of this integro-differential equation gives


the strain as a function of place and time for given
initial conditions. The stress can then be calculated
from the strain by means of the material characteristic.
In this paper equation (3) is not solved completely.
We shall only investigate the experimentally observed, quasi stationary solutions of a hopping band

1
e2

Be

FIG. 2. The material characteristic U(E, 6) studied in this


paper. The strain hardening is positive. The strain-rate
hardening is negative for values of the strain rate lying
between 8, and i,.

PENNING:

MATHEMATICS

3. HOPPING

OF

PORTEVIN-LE

CHATELIER

1171

EFFECT

BANDS

In the case of a hopping band the deformation

takes

place in a fraction f of the total length of the tensile


specimen. Inside the band the strain rate is assumed
to be uniform:
d. Outside the band the strain rate is
negligible

(no creep).

Then the average strain rate is

equal to fC. The differential


J++

equation

(3) now reads:

(Y;+f)d=v,lL.

(5)

The strain rate remains constant in time (X = 0) if:

The stress then rises linearly with time:

aa

6 = -

&

i,.

to construct

It turns

a dynamic o-d curve.

as shown in Fig. 2. In the

latter the strain is constant along the curve, whereas in


the dynamic

curve the strain increases because of the

finite strain rate.

In Figs. 3, 4, etc. the dynamic

a-d

curves are drawn in heavy lines, the material characteristic in thin lines.

The slope of the dynamic

curve

is given by:

aa
-

as

i,

c2

E/Y

----+k?

that at these special points and nowhere else, the slope


changes

sign and that the slope is positive

for zero.

strain rate, one can construct in a qualitative

way the

dynamic

o-i: curve.

An example

is given in Fig. 3.

The values of i, and i, have been chosen between i1


and .$. Other possibilities will be discussed later.
Furthermore

it is possible to determine

in which the curves are traversed,


machine

condition.

For i: < d, the stress must rise

and for d > &,,it must decrease.


constructed

6
= ; = M g

(1 -

i/Q/(

1 -

the direction

by means of the

Inspection

Fig. 3 reveals a very important

strain rates 6, and d, are approached

of the so,
fact.

to stationary

solutions because ;: is not equal to zero there.


conclusion

The

from both sides.

Yet these strain rates do not correspond

i/i,)

with

The only

can be that whenever the strain rate reaches

the value .C, or d, drastic changes have to take place,

4l = v&f).
The slope is infinite for the stationary
above.

for these strain rates (see Fig. 2). Taking into account

It relates the stress to the strain rate at an arbitrary


point in the specimen, and must be distinguished from
the material characteristic,

1
I

FIQ. 4. Whenever the strain rate reaches the value dz the


strain rate must jump to a value 6.
Similarly there is a
jump from g1 to 6~.

In all other cases B and C+will vary with time.


out to be convenient

I
I
I

namely a jump in strain rate.


solution given

The slope is zero for the strain rate &,, and also

for i, and J?,, because the strain rate hardening is zero

because other solutions


level,

as is shown in Fig. 4.

blocked

Such a jump is possible,

exist for d at the same stress

at 1,, the maximum

When

the solution

in the material

is

charac-

teristic, the strain rate jumps to a large value


When the solution is blocked at ii, the minimum,

iI1.
the

strain rate jumps to a small value d,. This behaviour


is the key to the understanding of the inhomogeneity of
the deformation rate in the Portevin-Le Chatelier effect.
Between the jumps the dynamical a-& curve is found
with the aid of Fig. 3. For both regions the slope is
positive,

but for low strain rates (e < .?,) stress and

strain rate (creep) both increase. The region, where


the coefficient for strain rate hardening is negative, is

FIG. 3. Qualitative

behaviour of the dynamic


for large values of 8,.

curve a(.$)

avoided.
In Fig. 5 the dynamic o-i: curve is given for one
region in the specimen, say A (Fig. 6). During plastic
flow (ii < i: < eH) the strain increases from e1 to &z
with an amount A& and the stress decreases from e1 to

1172

ACTA

METALLURGICA,

-7.

I
-- Go
_- I

h, &2

69

---i:

FIG. 5. IA the extrema of the material ch~raoterietic t,he


dynamic solution a(g) has to make a jump.

After the strain rate has jumped to the small


(negligible) value i, both stress and strain rate increase. Since the stress is present everywhere in the
specimen, that part of the specimen will now start to
deform, where the strain is smallest: region Bin Fig. 6.
The stress required will be slightly larger than 0,. In
general the hop will be to an adjoining region if E is a
monotonously increasing function of x. The hopping
band climbs the strain hill. Considering a constant
average slope in E(X) of m/f;, two or more bands must
be present at some time if m exceeds he. If m is
smaller than AE the regular drops and rises in stress
must be interrupted by a larger increase in stress to
start a new series of hops covering the entire specimen,
as in the case of plateau-bands observed by Wyler
et EXE.(~)
Since this is usually not the ease and only one
band is observed, the value of m must be equal to AE.
In chapter Ei it is shown how creep may cause the
strain gradient.
In Fig. 3 on which the foregoing discussions are
based, it was assumed that &, is smaller than 8,. In
Fig. 7 other cases are considered too. In the upper part
the stress is given as a function of time during the
period between two hops; in the lower part the cora,.

VOL.

20,

1972

responding flow rates. In part a the situation discussed before it is reviewed. At the stress maximum
the strain rate jumps from $ to iE the maximum
value. At the stress minimum the strain rate drops
from 2, to i,. For higher values of 6, (larger vO or
smaller f), the stress goes through an analytic minimum where i is equal to g,, during the decrease in flow
rate (part b). For still larger values of & the stress
decreases only a little then increases again and reaches
a value at which an adjoining region starts to deform
before the strain rate is blocked at g,. Then two
regions deform at the same time and the considerations
given above are no longer valid. The band is not
clearly hopping anymore. For (iOexceeding d, the
same conclusion must hold since then the stress rate
is always positive.
Apparently there is an upper limit for d,, for which

_!_---

-I

--E

1_I__

; I
- --- ,..-,_
I-

-----co

p-L__

- ho
-__-

- ---

-&--__i_LI_.
f

-t

FIG. 7. The influence of the value of P, on the stress


relaxation.

the band ceases to hop clearly. In view of the definition of EOthis implies an upper limit for the imposed
strain rate v&5 or a lower limit for the band widthfl.
4. CONTINUOUSLY

FIG. 6. The strain along the length of the specimen in the


0~~3 of hopping band. The bands hops from site A to B,
then to C. etc.

; _

I?liif
I

.
%

_I_]_---

MOVING

BAND

The results obtained in the previous section can


be applied to the case of a continuously moving band
in a specimen that also exhibits a strain gradient.
First the situation is discussed in a qualitative way
with the aid of Fig. 8. In (a) the material characteristic is sketched; in (b) and (c) the strain and strain
rate are sketched, respectively for the moment that
the stress is equal to a,. In point A, with strain Q,
the strain rate iumns from the maximum Green

MATHEMATICS

PENNING:

OF PORTEVIN-LE

CHATELIER

1173

EFFECT

Since he is expected to be independent of E (the stress


is separated in the variables e and i, where the latter
causes AE), the stress must rise linearly with time.
Substitution of this result into the material charecteristic (4), together with the proposed solution for E,
leads to :

a5 m

a5

aEzx+-aE

Es

F(&J =

cit.

(6)

The zero point oft must be chosen in agreement with


the initial condition. In this equation Ed is a function
of y only. The terms with z and t must hence combine
into a single term with y. Therefore:

mv-

aG
aE

6L.

FIG. 8. The strain rate as a function of x along the speoimen length. With increasingtime the stress rises, the pattern in Bmove8 to the right with a velocity v and the strain
pattern moves with the same velocity parallel to the
dashed lines.

With aid of the machine condition v can now be


determined :

In B the strain rate drops from the


value 2, to i,.
minimum fast value 8, to a low creep value. In
between A and B the strain rate is high. A short
time later the strains have increased with an amount
proportional to t. The notion of a continuously
moving hand now implies, that with increasing time
the same pattern in i: is still present, but shifted
towards larger values of z with a velocity V. The
pattern in E then shifts, with the same velocity,
parallel to dashed lines corresponding to the strain
gradient. Note that the small values of d( <i,) give
rise to creep in front of the moving band.
To obtain quantitative soIutions it is convenient to
introduce a new parameter y to describe the moving
band
y = t - X/V.

Prom the differential equation (6), Ed can be determined as a function y and with that:
1. the interval Ay, where Ed is not equal to zero;
2. the strain produced by the band: AE - E&J~
+

The strain consists of two parts. One part is the strain


gradient. It is time independent. The other part, Ed,
is the deformation introduced by the moving band.
It is time dependent only via dependence on y, Hence
one can write:
& =

Cl +

m4.L

&B(Y).

As in the previous section, creep in front of the band


is neglected. Only in a limited interval of y(y, < y <
y1 + Ay) the strain rate is not equal to zero.
The machine condition contains the average strain
rate, that can be calculated easily:

The machine condition now reads:


MC++ 2)A&/L = &.

(7)

4~1);
3. the width of the deformation band: d = CAY.
Without further specification of the function F in
the material characteristic, these results cannot be
worked out in more detail.
In conclusion of this and the previous section the
question must be considered what conditions determine the presence of a continuously moving band or a
hopping one. A rough estimate of the bandwidth of a
continuously moving band is obtained in the following
way. The average of the strain rate, & during the
time At(= d/w), that the band passes an arbitrary
point in the specimen, can be calculated from the total
strain :
i = v A+l.
4~)

The velocity II is given in equation (7). In the next


section it is shown that under normal conditions the
factor m, determining the strain gradient, is equal to
AE. Accordingly one finds:

Neglecting the term M ao/&, that is small compared


to unity for a rather stiff tensile machine, one can
conclude that vo/d must lie in between .$ and iH [see
Fig. S(c)]. At the end of the previous section it was
concluded that q/d (there named i,) had an upper
limit for clearly hopping bands in exactly the same

1174

ACTA

METALLURGICA,

s-,_----___
i:

&(X=L)<E(x=O)

.
q--_---

up_______---_
!I
-----

-----

-_D

Pm. 9. Creep outside the band (d < .kJ gives rise to an


increasing strain gradient along the specimen until the
strain at x = L and 5 = 0 are equal.

range of values. We therefore state that not clearly


hopping indicates a transition to continuously
moving of the deformation band. Such a statement
can only be proven by a detailed analysis of the complete integro-differential equation (3). In a special
example, where the function Fin the material characteristic was specified, calculation showed that, in
agreement with the statement above, for given vO/L,
the bandwidth of a continuously moving band is below
the minimum band width of a clearly hopping band.

VOL.

20,

1972

The exact location of the band is then no longer important, the strain gradient remains constant rtnd AE,
the strain suffered by each point in the specimen
during the passage of one band through the specimen,
is well defined. The slope of the strain gradient is
then equal to A&/L. If the gradient is steeper more
than one band must be present at the same time.
The conclusion is that creep causes a strain gradient
in the tensile specimen. The gradient reaches ultimately such a value that the strain at the location
where a new band starts, is equal to the strain at the
location where the former band left the specimen. If
the gradient is not yet sufficiently steep the stress
must rise before a new band can start, a situation
observed by Wyler when plateau-bands are present.(5)
In the ultimate situation such a rise in stress is no
longer necessary.
6. DEPTH

OF THE VALLEY
CHARACTERISTICS

OF

THE

o-8

It is possible to determine the depth, b,, (see Fig. 2),


of the a-i characteristic if the strain in the band, AE,
and the stress drop (hopping band) or the band width,
(continuously moving band) are known.
By comparing the material characteristic at the
beginning of plastic flow and the end of plastic flow,
one finds (see also Fig. 5) :
q, = Aa + 2

5. INFLUENCE

IN

AE.

CREEP

In the foregoing the influence of stable flow with


strain rates smaller than .@,has been neglected. We
shall now discuss in some detail the influence of this
creep on the Portevin-Le Chatelier effect. In this
creep region the strain rate increases monotonically
with increasing strain. If we plot the value of 6 as a
function of x along the specimen, a curve as shown in
Fig. 9 is obtained. The situation drawn corresponds
to a continuously moving band, but that is not essential for the argument to be used. The strain at x = L
was taken to be smaller then the strain at x = 0.
Therefore an interval of &values smaller than gz is
missing. From the figure it is immediately clear that
the place-average of the strain rate depends on the
location of the band and hence depends explicitly on
time, in contrast with the assumptions made in Sections 3 and 4. Furthermore the time-average of the
strain r&e increases in the direction of band propagation. Hence the gradient in strain along the specimen will increase. The hill that the band must climb
increases in height. This argument holds until all
values of B in between 8, and 8, are present. In that
case the strain at x = L is equal to the strain at x = 0.

For a continuously moving band one has to compare


the differential equation (6) written in y, at the beginning and the end of plastic flow. One obtains after
elimination of Ay by introducing the band width, d:

acr

CT,,
= - {A& - md/L}.
a.9
In the case of plateau bands m is equal to zero. In the
normal case m equals he.
It must be noted that these results are essentially
independent of the detailed shape of the material
characteristic.
7. CONCLUSIONS

The existence of the Portevin-Le Chatelier effect


can be explained elegantly by assuming that the strain
rate hardening is negative over a 6nite interval of
strain rates (& < 6 < 8,). If during a tensile experiment the strain rate at any point reaches the value
.$ or gz the strain rate must make a jump. If i, is
reached the strain rate jumps to a low value; if is is
reached it jumps to a high value. With the aid of

PENNING:

MATHEMATICS

OF

PORTEVIN-LE

these jumps the inhomogeneity in 000~ rate as a function of place along the specimen can be explained for
both the continuously moving band and the hopping
band. The band width of the moving band is a minimum. If for some reason the band width must be
larger than this minimum the band is hopping.
If the flow rates below B, are not negligible in comparison with those larger than 6r, a strain gradient is
built up. The band climbs up-hill. The strain gradient
is stable if it is equal to A&/L, where AE is the strain
increase during the time a band needs to make a com-

CHATELIER

1175

EFFECT

plete cycle over the specimen length L, by either


moving continuously or hopping.
REFERENCES
1. D. MUNZ and E. MACHERAUCH,2. MetaUk. 57, 552 (1966).
2. A. WIJLER and J. SCRADE VAN WESTRUM. h-i&a Met. 5.
~~
159 (1971).
3. J. FRIEDEL, DisZomtions, p. 351. Pergamon Press (1967).
4. A. W. SLEESWIJK,Acta Met. 6,598 (1958); S. R. BODNEX
and A. ROSEN. J. Mech. Phvs. S&&T 15. 63 (1967): H.
YOSHINAGA anh S. MOROZTJM~,
Phil. Mag..!B,
lb51 (i971).
5. A. WIJLER, J. SCHADE VAN WESTRUM and A. VAN DEN
BEUKEL, Acta Met. 20, 355 (1971).
.