Thermo-kinetic mechanisms for grain boundary structure multiplicity, thermal instability and defect interactions

NJ Burbery and R Das and WG Ferguson, MATERIALS CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, 179, 254-265 (2016).

DOI: 10.1016/j.matchemphys.2016.05.037

Grain boundaries (GBs) provide a source and/or a sink for crystal defects and store elastic energy due to the non-uniform atomic bonding structure of the GB core. GB structures are thermodynamically driven to transition to the lowest energy configuration possible; however to date there has been little evidence to explain why specific GB structures have a low energy state. Furthermore, there is little quantitative demonstration of the significance of physical and GB structure characteristics on the GB energy, thermal stability, and the effect of temporary local GB structure transformations on defect interactions. This paper evaluates the defect interactions and structure stability of multiple Sigma 5(310) GB structures in bi-crystals of pure aluminium, and systematically investigates the features at 0 K to characterise multiple metastable structures. Structure stability is evaluated by utilising unstable vacancy defects to initiate GB transformations, and using nudged elastic band simulations to quantify this with the activation energy. The emission of stable vacancy defects from the 'stable' and metastable grain boundaries is also evaluated in the same mariner. A detailed analysis of dislocation nucleation at the atomistic scale demonstrates that local transformations of GB structure between stable and metastable intermediates can provide a mechanism to accommodate the generation of crystal defects. Kinetic (time-dependent) effects that compete with energetic driving forces for structural transformations of GBs are shown to cause a significant effect on the activation properties that may exceed the influence of GB potential energy. The results demonstrate that GB structural multiplicity can be associated with the generation and absorption of dislocations and vacancies. This paper demonstrates the suitability of atomistic simulations coupled with nudged elastic band simulations to evaluate fundamental thermodynamic properties of pure FCC metals. Overall, this paper demonstrates an inherent link between the atomic structure and the thermal, energy and structure stability properties of grain boundaries; and reveals the mechanisms for GB-defect interactions involving localised GB structure transformation. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Return to Publications page