Dislocation behaviors in nanotwinned diamond

JW Xiao and HZ Yang and XZ Wu and F Younus and P Li and B Wen and XY Zhang and YB Wang and YJ Tian, SCIENCE ADVANCES, 4, eaat8195 (2018).

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8195

Experimental results (Huang et al.) indicated that nanotwinned diamond (nt-diamond) has unprecedented hardness, whose physical mechanism has remained elusive. In this report, we categorize interaction modes between dislocations and twin planes in nt-diamond and calculate the associated reaction heat, activation energies, and barrier strength using molecular dynamics. On the basis of the Sachs model, twin thickness dependence of nt-diamond hardness is evaluated, which is in good agreement with the experimental data. We show that two factors contribute to the unusually high hardness of nt-diamond: high lattice frictional stress by the nature of carbon bonding in diamond and high athermal stress due to the Hall-Petch effect. Both factors stem from the low activation volumes and high activation energy for dislocation nucleation and propagation in diamond twin planes. This work provides new insights into hardening mechanisms in nt-diamond and will be helpful for developing new superhard materials in the future.

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