Atomistic Simulations of Dislocation Nucleation in Single Crystals and Grain Boundaries

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Tschopp, Mark Allen
McDowell, David L.
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The objective of this research is to use atomistic simulations to investigate dislocation nucleation from grain boundaries in face-centered cubic aluminum and copper. This research primarily focuses on asymmetric tilt grain boundaries and has three main components. First, this research uses molecular statics simulations of the structure and energy of these faceted, dissociated grain boundary structures to show that Σ3 asymmetric boundaries can be decomposed into the structural units of the Σ3 symmetric tilt grain boundaries, i.e., the coherent and incoherent twin boundaries. Moreover, the energy for all Σ3 asymmetric boundaries is predicted with only the energies of the Σ3 symmetric boundaries and the inclination angle. Understanding the structure of these boundaries provides insight into dislocation nucleation from these boundaries. Further work into the structure and energy of other low order Σ asymmetric boundaries and the spatial distribution of free volume within the grain boundaries also provides insight into dislocation nucleation mechanisms. Second, this research uses molecular dynamics deformation simulations with uniaxial tension applied perpendicular to these boundaries to show that the dislocation nucleation mechanisms in asymmetric boundaries are highly dependent on the faceted, dissociated structure. Grain boundary dislocation sources can act as perfect sources/sinks for dislocations or may violate this premise by increasing the dislocation content of the boundary during nucleation. Furthermore, simulations under uniaxial tension and uniaxial compression show that nucleation of the second partial dislocation in copper exhibits tension-compression asymmetry. Third, this research explores the development of models that incorporate the resolved stress components on the slip system of dislocation nucleation to predict the atomic stress required for dislocation nucleation from single crystals and grain boundaries. Single crystal simulations of homogeneous dislocation nucleation help define the role of lattice orientation on the nucleation stress for grain boundaries. The resolved stress normal to the slip plane on which the dislocation nucleates plays an integral role in the dislocation nucleation stress and related mechanisms. In summary, the synthesis of various aspects of this work has provided improved understanding of how the grain boundary character influences dislocation nucleation in bicrystals, with possible implications for nanocrystalline materials.
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