Atomistic simulations of superplasticity and amorphization of nanocrystalline anatase TiO2

X Zhang and HJ Gao and XY Li, EXTREME MECHANICS LETTERS, 22, 131-137 (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.eml.2018.05.009

As an important type of functional material, nanocrystalline TiO2 with anatase phase has been used for solar energy conversion and photocatalysis. However, there have been only a few limited studies on the mechanical behaviors of nanocrystalline anatase. We performed a series of large-scale atomistic simulations to investigate the deformation of nanocrystalline anatase with mean grain sizes varying from 2 nm to 6 nm and amorphous TiO2 under uniaxial tension and compression at room temperature. The simulation results showed that for uniaxial tension, the fracture strains of simulated samples increase as the mean grain size decreases, and a superplastic deformation occurred in the nanocrystalline sample with a grain size of 2 nm. Such superplasticity of nanocrystalline anatase is attributed to the dominance of grain boundary sliding and nanoscale cavitation during deformation. The simulation results also showed that during uniaxial compression, the amorphization induced by high local compressive stress is the controlling plastic deformation mechanism, resulting in a good compressibility of nanocrystalline TiO2. During both tension and compression, nanocrystalline TiO2 exhibited good deformability, which is attributed to the fact that the grain boundaries with high volume fractions and disordered structures accommodated large plastic strains. Our present study provides a fundamental understanding of the plastic deformation of nanocrystalline anatase TiO2, as well as a route for enhancing the tensile and compressive deformability of nanostructured ceramics. (c) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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