Plasticity-induced restructuring of a nanocrystalline grain boundary network

JF Panzarino and ZL Pan and TJ Rupert, ACTA MATERIALIA, 120, 1-13 (2016).

DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2016.08.040

The grain boundary-mediated mechanisms that control plastic deformation of nanocrystalline metals should cause evolution of the grain boundary network, since they directly alter misorientation relationships between crystals. Unfortunately, current experimental techniques are unable to track such evolution, due to limits on both spatial and temporal resolution. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations are used to study grain boundary restructuring in nanocrystalline Al during both monotonic tension and cyclic loading. This task is enabled by the creation of new analysis tools for atomistic datasets that allow for a complete characterization and tracking of microstructural descriptors of the grain boundary network. Quantitative measurements of grain boundary character distribution, triple junction type, grain boundary plane normal, and other interfacial network characteristics are extracted and analyzed. The results presented here show that nanocrystalline plasticity leads to an increase in special boundary fraction and disruption of two-dimensional boundary connectivity, with the most dramatic evolution occurring in the smallest grain sizes. (C) 2016 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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