Surface-controlled dislocation multiplication in metal micropillars
CR Weinberger and W Cai, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 105, 14304-14307 (2008).
Understanding the plasticity and strength of crystalline materials in terms of the dynamics of microscopic defects has been a goal of materials research in the last 70 years. The size-dependent yield stress observed in recent experiments of submicrometer metallic pillars provides a unique opportunity to test our theoretical models, allowing the predictions from defect dynamics simulations to be directly compared with mechanical strength measurements. Although depletion of dislocations from submicrometer face-centered-cubic (FCC) pillars provides a plausible explanation of the observed size-effect, we predict multiplication of dislocations in body-centered-cubic (BCC) pillars through a series of molecular dynamics and dislocation dynamics simulations. Under the combined effects from the image stress and dislocation core structure, a dislocation nucleated from the surface of a BCC pillar generates one or more dislocations moving in the opposite direction before it exits from the surface. The process is repeatable so that a single nucleation event is able to produce a much larger amount of plastic deformation than that in FCC pillars. This self- multiplication mechanism suggests a need for a different explanation of the size dependence of yield stress in FCC and BCC pillars.
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