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Atomistic mechanism for vacancy-enhanced grain boundary migration

Shuozhi Xu's picture


Mechanical behavior of polycrystalline materials is intimately connected to migration of grain boundaries, which in turn is dramatically impacted by the presence of defects. In this paper, we present atomistic simulations to elucidate the elementary mechanism that dictates the role of vacancies in enhancing grain boundary migration via shear-coupled normal motion. The minimum energy pathway and the associated energy barriers are calculated using the nudged elastic band method. Fully three-dimensional atomistic simulations provide excellent verification of the three-dimensional disconnection model and furnish quantitative evidence that vacancies facilitate grain boundary migration by weakening the line tension of a disconnection loop. It is also revealed that vacancies serve as energetically favorable sites for the nucleation of grain boundary disconnections, thereby inducing shear-coupled grain boundary migration.

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