Implications of the choice of interatomic potential on calculated planar faults and surface properties in nickel

CA Becker and F Tavazza and LE Levine, PHILOSOPHICAL MAGAZINE, 91, 3578-3597 (2011).

DOI: 10.1080/14786435.2011.587839

With the increasing use of molecular simulation to understand deformation mechanisms in transition metals, it is important to assess how well the simulations reproduce physical behavior both near equilibrium and under more extreme conditions. In particular, it is important to examine whether simulations predict unusual deformation paths that are competitive with those experimentally observed. In this work we compare generalized planar fault energy landscapes and surface energies for various interatomic potentials with those from density functional theory calculations to examine how well these more complicated planar faults and surface energies are captured and whether any deformations are energetically competitive with the 111 < 112 > slip observed in FCC crystals. To do this we examine not just the (111) fault orientation, but also the (100), (110), (210), (211), (311), and (331) orientations to test behavior outside of the fitting range of the interatomic potentials. We find that the shape of the (111)11 (2) over bar stacking fault energy curve varies significantly with potential, with the ratio of unstable to stable stacking fault energies ranging from 1.22 to 14.07, and some deformation paths for non-(111) orientations give activation barriers less than 50% higher than the unstable stacking fault energies. These are important considerations when choosing an interatomic potential for deformation simulations.

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