Anomalous slip in body-centred cubic metals

D Caillard and B Bienvenu and E Clouet, NATURE, 609, 936-+ (2022).

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05087-0

Crystal strength and plastic flow are controlled by the motion and interaction of dislocations, the line defects carrying atomic shear increments. Whereas, in most crystals, deformation develops in the crystallographic planes in which the glide force acting on dislocations is maximum, plasticity in body-centred cubic metals is more complex. Slip systems in which the resolved shear stress is not the highest can dominate at low temperature, leading to anomalous slip(1,2). Using in situ tensile tests in a transmission electron microscope we show that anomalous slip arises from the high mobility of multi-junctions(3), that is, junctions between more than two dislocations, which glide at a velocity several orders of magnitude larger than single dislocations. These multi-junctions result from the interaction of a simple binary junction with a gliding dislocation. Although elasticity theory predicts that these binary junctions should be unstable in crystals with a weak elastic anisotropy such as tungsten, both experiments and atomistic simulations reveal that such junctions can be created under dynamic conditions, in agreement with the existence of anomalous slip in almost all body-centred cubic metals, including tungsten(4,5).

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