The stability of austenite in a number of Fe–Mn–Si-based shape memory alloys has been investigated. It was found that a grain boundary precipitate of BCC structure is formed over a wide range of alloy compositions and heat treatment temperatures. This grain boundary phase has been identified as the chi (χ) phase. Although up to 3 vol.% of the grain boundary precipitate was generated by isothermal aging in the range 500–800 °C, it was found not to markedly affect the mechanical properties or the shape memory effect. Nano-indentation indicated that the hardness and strength of the parent and precipitate phase are very similar, as are their compositions.
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