Tension-compression asymmetry in plasticity of nanotwinned 3C-SiC nanocrystals

SZ Chavoshi and SZ Xu, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 124, 095103 (2018).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5046949

Encompassing nanoscale thin twins in metals induces diverse influences, either strengthening triggered by the lattice dislocation blockage effects or softening prompted by dislocation emission from coherent twin boundary (CTB)/grain boundary (GB) intersections as well as CTB migration; yet the deformation mechanism remains poorly understood in ceramic nanostructures possessing covalent bonds. Here, we report the results of uniaxial compressive and tensile stress loading of twin-free and nanotwinned nanocrystalline cubic silicon carbide (3C-SiC) ceramic attained by large-scale molecular dynamics simulations. We find a strong and unique tension-compression asymmetry in strength of nanocrystalline ceramics, much higher than that of metals. We demystify that strength and ductility behaviour do not correlate simply with the amount of dislocation density, voids, intergranular disordered phase, and total strain energy; instead, it arises from a complex interplay of the aforementioned features and structural characteristics, e.g., GB and triple junction area distribution along/normal to the direction of straining as well as the capability of strain accommodation by the GBs and CTBs, with the dominant role of the structural characteristics in nanotwinned samples. Our results also reveal that primarily intergranular crack propagation and fracture along the GBs transpires, and not along the CTBs, resulting from the high energy of the GBs. However, a high density of nanoscale twins in the 3C-SiC nanocrystals could give rise to the alternation of the crack path from intergranular to intragranular type induced by shear, which brings about the glide of Shockley partials along the CTBs and subsequent formation of CTB steps and twin plane migration. Published by AIP Publishing.

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