Cavitation in a metallic liquid: Homogeneous nucleation and growth of nanovoids

Y Cai and HA Wu and SN Luo, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 140, 214317 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4880960

Large-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are performed to investigate homogeneous nucleation and growth of nanovoids during cavitation in liquid Cu. We characterize in detail the atomistic cavitation processes by following the temporal evolution of cavities or voids, analyze the nucleation behavior with the mean first-passage time (MFPT) and survival probability (SP) methods, and discuss the results against classical nucleation theory (CNT), the Tolman equation for surface energy, independent calculation of surface tension via integrating the stress profiles, the Johnson-Mehl-Avrami (JMA) growth law, and the power law for nucleus size distributions. Cavitation in this representative metallic liquid is a high energy barrier Poisson processes, and the steady-state nucleation rates obtained from statistical runs with the MFPT and SP methods are in agreement. The MFPT method also yields the critical nucleus size and the Zeldovich factor. Fitting with the Tolman's equation to the MD simulations yields the surface energy of a planar interface (similar to 0.9 J m(-2)) and the Tolman length (0.4-0.5 angstrom), and those values are in accord with those from integrating the stress profiles of a planar interface. Independent CNT predictions of the nucleation rate (10(33-34) s(-1) m(-3)) and critical size (3-4 angstrom in radius) are in agreement with the MFPT and SP results. The JMA law can reasonably describe the nucleation and growth process. The size distribution of subcritical nuclei appears to follow a power law with an exponent decreasing with increasing tension owing to coupled nucleation and growth, and that of the supercritical nuclei becomes flattened during further stress relaxation due to void coalescence. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

Return to Publications page