A magnetic field assisted processing method entails heating an iron-carbon alloy at an austenitizing temperature for a time duration sufficient for the alloy to achieve an austenitic microstructure; cooling the iron-carbon alloy to an intermediate temperature defined by a continuous cooling transformation (CCT) diagram for the iron-carbon alloy at a rate sufficient to avoid phase transformation of the austenitic microstructure, the intermediate temperature being below a bainitic knee of the CCT diagram and above a martensite start temperature; and applying a high field strength magnetic field of at least about 0.2 Tesla to the iron-carbon alloy after reaching the intermediate temperature. The field is applied for a time duration sufficient to transform the austenitic microstructure into a fine dispersion of one or more iron carbide phases in a ferrite matrix in order to produce a magnetically-processed alloy having improved ductility and strength.
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 The invention described in this disclosure was made with government support under Prime Contract Number DE-AC05-000R22725 awarded by the Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in this invention.