Oxidation-assisted ductility of aluminium nanowires

FG Sen and AT Alpas and ACT van Duin and Y Qi, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 5, 3959 (2014).

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4959

Oxidation can drastically change mechanical properties of nanostructures that typically have large surface-to-volume ratios. However, the underlying mechanisms describing the effect oxidation has on the mechanical properties of nanostructures have yet to be characterized. Here we use reactive molecular dynamics and show that the oxidation enhances the aluminium nanowire ductility, and the oxide shell exhibits superplastic behaviour. The oxide shell decreases the aluminium dislocation nucleation stress by increasing the activation volume and the number of nucleation sites. Superplasticity of the amorphous oxide shell is due to viscous flow as a result of healing of the broken aluminium-oxygen bonds by oxygen diffusion, below a critical strain rate. The interplay between the strain rate and oxidation rate is not only essential for designing nanodevices in ambient environments, but also controls interface properties in large-scale deformation processes.

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