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Dislocation dynamics in heterogeneous nanostructured materials

Shuozhi Xu's picture


Crystalline materials can be strengthened by introducing dissimilar phases that impede dislocation glide. At the same time, the changes in microstructure and chemistry usually make the materials less ductile. One way to circumvent the strength–ductility dilemma is to take advantage of heterogeneous nanophases which simultaneously serve as dislocation barriers and sources. Owing to their superior mechanical properties, heterogeneous nanostructured materials (HNMs) have attracted a lot of attention worldwide. Nevertheless, it has been difficult to characterize dislocation dynamics in HNMs using classical continuum models, mainly due to the challenges in describing the elastic and plastic heterogeneity among the phases. In this work, we advance a phase-field dislocation dynamics (PFDD) model to treat multi-phase materials, consisting of phases differing in composition, structural order, and size in the same system. We then apply the advanced PFDD model to exploring two important but divergent materials design problems in HNMs: dislocation/obstacle interactions and dislocation/interface interactions. Results show that the interactions between a dislocation and distribution of obstacles varying in structure and composition cannot be understood by simply interpolating from their individual interactions with a dislocation. It is also found that materials containing interfaces with nanoscale thicknesses and compositional gradients have a much higher dislocation bypass stress than those with sharp interfaces, providing an explanation for the simultaneous high strength and toughness of thick interface-containing nanolaminates as observed in recent experiments.

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