Compact A15 Frank-Kasper nano-phases at the origin of dislocation loops in face-centred cubic metals

AM Goryaeva and C Domain and A Chartier and A Dezaphie and TD Swinburne and K Ma and M Loyer-Prost and J Creuze and MC Marinica, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 14, 3003 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38729-6

It is generally considered that the elementary building blocks of defects in face-centred cubic (fcc) metals, e.g., interstitial dumbbells, coalesce directly into ever larger 2D dislocation loops, implying a continuous coarsening process. Here, we reveal that, prior to the formation of dislocation loops, interstitial atoms in fcc metals cluster into compact 3D inclusions of A15 Frank-Kasper phase. After reaching the critical size, A15 nano-phase inclusions act as a source of prismatic or faulted dislocation loops, dependent on the energy landscape of the host material. Using cutting-edge atomistic simulations we demonstrate this scenario in Al, Cu, and Ni. Our results explain the enigmatic 3D cluster structures observed in experiments combining diffuse X-ray scattering and resistivity recovery. Formation of compact nano-phase inclusions in fcc structure, along with previous observations in bcc structure, suggests that the fundamental mechanisms of interstitial defect formation are more complex than historically assumed and require a general revision. Interstitial-mediated formation of compact 3D precipitates can be a generic phenomenon, which should be further explored in systems with different crystallographic lattices. It is historically assumed point defects in metals coalesce directly into larger dislocation loops. Here the authors revise the fundamental mechanism, reveal the formation of A15 nano-phase clusters in fcc metals prior to dislocation loops, and highlight the major implications of this discovery.

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