Defect annihilation at grain boundaries in alpha-Fe
D Chen and J Wang and TY Chen and L Shao, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 3, 1450 (2013).
Understanding radiation responses of Fe-based metals is essential to develop radiation tolerant steels for longer and safer life cycles in harsh reactor environments. Nanograined metals have been explored as self-healing materials due to point-defect recombination at grain boundaries. The fundamental defect-boundary interactions, however, are not yet well understood. We discover that the interactions are always mediated by formation and annealing of chain-like defects, which consist of alternately positioned interstitials and vacancies. These chain-like defects are closely correlated to the patterns of defect formation energy minima on the grain boundary, which depend on specific boundary configurations. Through chain-like defects, a point defect effectively translates large distances, to annihilate with its opposite, thus grain boundaries act as highly efficient defect sinks that cannot saturate under extreme radiation conditions.
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