This article presents accurate laser-ultrasonic measurements of longitudinal velocity in the 500–1000 °C temperature range in carbon steel samples for different conditions known to affect phase transformations such as cooling rate, carbon concentration, and rolling. Measurements were performed during continuous heating and cooling at rates varying between 0.1 and 20 °C/s. Carbon concentrations ranged from 0.0% to 0.72%. Hot-rolled and cold-rolled samples were measured. For the hot-rolled samples, a reproducible hysteresis was observed in the dependence of the ultrasonic velocity versus temperature of samples having a significant carbon concentration. This hysteresis is attributed to the combined effects of the phase transformation and of the ferromagnetic–paramagnetic transition. In particular, the rate of change of velocity with temperature during heating suddenly diminishes at the Curie temperature, and the velocity behavior during cooling shows clearly the start and end of phase transformations, even allowing discrimination between ferrite and pearlite nucleations. For the cold-rolled samples, significant drops in ultrasonic velocity were observed at the transformation temperatures when the samples were heated for the first time. However, the magnitude of these drops decreased for subsequent heating. These drops are attributed to irreversible crystallographic orientation changes caused by phase transformations. This effect was modeled using the Kurdjumov–Sach transformation relationship. The model calculation agrees well with the experimental data.

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