Atomistic simulations of crack nucleation and intergranular fracture in bulk nanocrystalline nickel

AJ Cao and YG Wei, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 76, 024113 (2007).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.76.024113

We report large scale molecular dynamics simulations of dynamic cyclic uniaxial tensile deformation of pure, fully dense nanocrystalline Ni, to reveal the crack initiation, and consequently intergranular fracture is the result of coalescence of nanovoids by breaking atomic bonds at grain boundaries and triple junctions. The results indicate that the brittle fracture behavior accounts for the transition from plastic deformation governed by dislocation to one that is grain-boundary dominant when the grain size reduces to the nanoscale. The grain-boundary mediated plasticity is also manifested by the new grain formation and growth induced by stress-assisted grain-boundary diffusion observed in this work. This work illustrates that grain-boundary decohesion is one of the fundamental deformation mechanisms in nanocrystalline Ni.

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