Empirical force field-based kinetic Monte Carlo simulation of precipitate evolution and growth in Al-Cu alloys
K Joshi and S Chaudhuri, MODELLING AND SIMULATION IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING, 24, 075012 (2016).
Ability to accelerate the morphological evolution of nanoscale precipitates is a fundamental challenge for atomistic simulations. Kinetic Monte Carlo (KMC) methodology is an effective approach for accelerating the evolution of nanoscale systems that are dominated by so-called rare events. The quality and accuracy of energy landscape used in KMC calculations can be significantly improved using DFT-informed interatomic potentials. Using newly developed computational framework that uses molecular simulator LAMMPS as a library function inside KMC solver SPPARKS, we investigated formation and growth of Guiner-Preston (GP) zones in dilute Al-Cu alloys at different temperature and copper concentrations. The KMC simulations with angular dependent potential (ADP) predict formation of coherent disc-shaped monolayers of copper atoms (GPI zones) in early stage. Such monolayers are then gradually transformed into energetically favored GPII phase that has two aluminum layers sandwiched between copper layers. We analyzed the growth kinetics of KMC trajectory using Johnson-Mehl-Avrami (JMA) theory and obtained a phase transformation index close to 1.0. In the presence of grain boundaries, the KMC calculations predict the segregation of copper atoms near the grain boundaries instead of formation of GP zones. The computational framework presented in this work is based on open source potentials and MD simulator and can predict morphological changes during the evolution of the alloys in the bulk and around grain boundaries.
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