Nanoscale ductile fracture and associated atomistic mechanisms in a body-centered cubic refractory metal

Y Lu and YC Chen and YP Zeng and Y Zhang and DL Kong and XQ Li and T Zhu and XY Li and SC Mao and Z Zhang and LH Wang and XD Han, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 14, 5540 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-41090-3

Understanding the competing modes of brittle versus ductile fracture is critical for preventing the failure of body-centered cubic (BCC) refractory metals. Despite decades of intensive investigations, the nanoscale fracture processes and associated atomistic mechanisms in BCC metals remain elusive due to insufficient atomic-scale experimental evidence. Here, we perform in situ atomic-resolution observations of nanoscale fracture in single crystals of BCC Mo. The crack growth process involves the nucleation, motion, and interaction of dislocations on multiple 1/2 < 111 > 110 slip systems at the crack tip. These dislocation activities give rise to an alternating sequence of crack-tip plastic shearing, resulting in crack blunting, and local separation normal to the crack plane, leading to crack extension and sharpening. Atomistic simulations reveal the effects of temperature and strain rate on these alternating processes of crack growth, providing insights into the dislocation-mediated mechanisms of the ductile to brittle transition in BCC refractory metals.

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