Engineering twin boundaries for enhancing strength and ductility of thermoelectric semiconductor PbTe

M Huang and PC Zhai and SI Morozov and WA Goddard and GD Li and QJ Zhang, JOURNAL OF ALLOYS AND COMPOUNDS, 959, 170429 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2023.170429

Twin boundary engineering is a potential strategy for achieving robust mechanical properties of materials. Our previous molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the nanotwin could significantly enhance the ductility of thermoelectric (TE) semiconductors PbTe due to coherent twin boundary (CTB) migration ac-companied by the 'catching bond' at room temperature. To further improve the mechanical strength or ductility of PbTe, we investigated the role of the shear direction, the CTB orientation and the temperature on mechanical properties of nanotwinned PbTe. Under the shear stress along 110 loading direction, the partial dislocations with a/6 121 and a/6 211 Burgers vectors are preferentially activated on (111) twin plane with higher yield strength and ultimate shear strength than that of the (111)112 slip system. The nanotwinned PbTe with CTB orientation ranging from 125 degrees to 161 degrees has both higher fracture strain and larger ultimate shear strength than 0 degrees CTB orientation. This is attributed to the motion of the twinning partial dislocation significantly enhancing the ductility while the blocking of dislocations by CTBs further im-proving the shear strength and deformability of PbTe. Moreover, the low temperature (below 100 K) en-ergetically enables the partial dislocation to nucleate and glide on the strong Te-CTB plane, which induces successive CTB migration along Pb-and Te-CTB planes, resulting in enhanced ductility of nanotwinned PbTe.(c) 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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