Effects of grain size and temperature on mechanical and failure properties of ultrananocrystalline diamond

ZD Sha and PS Branicio and V Sorkin and QX Pei and YW Zhang, DIAMOND AND RELATED MATERIALS, 20, 1303-1309 (2011).

DOI: 10.1016/j.diamond.2011.08.012

Molecular dynamics simulations of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), with random distribution of grain sizes and grain boundaries (GBs), are performed to investigate the effect of grain size and temperature on the mechanical properties and failure mechanisms under tensile loading. Results show that when the grain size of UNCDs decreases from 4.1 nm to 2.26 nm, the Young's modulus decreases from 891 GPa to 840 GPa, while the obtained intrinsic fracture strength, 113 GPa, is insensitive to the grain size. Elastic softening is attributed to the increased volume fraction of amorphous-like atoms. Our analysis reveals that at room temperature. UNCD fails via sliding along a grain boundary with a large shear stress. Such sliding triggers crack initiation at an adjacent triple junction and subsequent propagation along an adjacent grain boundary with a large normal stress. With increasing temperature, a crossover from grain sliding to a direct intergranular fracture is observed. The crossover is caused by a different dependence of GB shear and tensile strength on temperature. The present work provides information that may be useful to the design and optimization of the mechanical properties and failure behavior of UNCDs. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Return to Publications page