Learning Grain-Boundary Segregation: From First Principles to Polycrystals

M Wagih and CA Schuh, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 129, 046102 (2022).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.046102

The segregation of solute atoms at grain boundaries (GBs) can strongly impact the structural and functional properties of polycrystals. Yet, due to the limited availability of simulation tools to study polycrystals at the atomistic scale (i.e., interatomic potentials), there is a minimal understanding of the variation of solute segregation tendencies across the very complex space of GB microenvironments and the large range of alloys in which it can occur. Here, we develop an algorithmic framework that can directly learn the full spectrum of segregation energies for a metal solute atom in a metal polycrystal from ab initio methods, bypassing the need for alloy interatomic potentials. This framework offers a pathway to a comprehensive catalog of GB solute segregation with quantum accuracy, for the entire alloy space. As an initial demonstration in this pursuit, we build an extensive GB segregation database for aluminum-based alloys across the periodic table, including dozens of alloys for which there are substantially no prior data.

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