The heterogeneous nature of mechanically accelerated grain growth

EY Chen and P Hamilton and BL Boyce and R Dingreville, JOURNAL OF MATERIALS SCIENCE, 57, 21743-21755 (2022).

DOI: 10.1007/s10853-022-07974-3

While grain growth is traditionally viewed as a purely thermally driven process, nanocrystalline metals can undergo grain growth under mechanical loads, even at room temperature. We performed a detailed atomistic study of the heterogeneous nature of mechanically accelerated grain growth in a polycrystalline Pt nanowire. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we compared the grain-growth behavior of individual grains during tensile and shear cyclic loading, for three different equivalent strain levels, and at two temperatures. Pure thermal grain growth with no mechanical loading provided a baseline reference case. On average, grains that were already susceptible to thermal grain growth were stimulated to grow faster with mechanical loading, as expected. However, when analyzed on a grain-by-grain basis, the results were far more complex: grains that grew fastest under one stimuli were less accelerated under other stimuli. Even when the magnitude of loading changed, the relative growth of individual grains was distorted. We interpret this complexity from the perspective of superimposed growth mechanisms.

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