Local structural ordering determines the mechanical damage tolerance of amorphous grain boundary complexions

P Garg and TJ Rupert, SCRIPTA MATERIALIA, 237, 115712 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.scriptamat.2023.115712

Amorphous grain boundary complexions act as toughening features within a microstructure because they can absorb dislocations more efficiently than traditional grain boundaries. This toughening effect should be a strong function of the local internal structure of the complexion, which has recently been shown to be determined by grain boundary crystallography. To test this hypothesis, molecular dynamics are used here to simulate dislocation absorption and damage nucleation for complexions with different distributions of structural short-range order. The complexion with a more disordered structure away from the dislocation absorption site is actually found to better resist crack nucleation, as damage tolerance requires delocalized deformation and the operation of shear-transformation zones through the complexion thickness. The more damage tolerant complexion accommodates plastic strain efficiently within the entire complexion, providing the key mechanistic insight that local patterning and asymmetry of structural short-range order controls the toughening effect of amorphous complexions.

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