Heat treatment has been widely applied for manipulating the microstructure and properties of metals with thermal energy. The thermal energy triggers the atomic diffusion accompanied by dislocation movement and results in the subsequent property variations in metals. One of the attractive efforts in the past decades is the development of a direct treatment of metals with electric current stressing as an alternative method for conventional heat treatment. Electric current treatment provides thermal energy from Joule heat (thermal effect) and kinetic energy from electron momentum (athermal effect). This article reviewed the practices of electric current treatment, microstructure-property variations and the physical metallurgy involved in a variety of metals. Both thermal and athermal effects have been well recognized in the literatures. An appropriate manipulation of the electric current treatment enables the control of both effects and thus the microstructure and properties of metals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering