Influences of solute segregation on grain boundary motion
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Nanocrystalline materials are polycrystalline solids with grain size in the nanometer range (< 100nm), which have been found to exhibit superior properties such as high magnetic permeability and corrosion resistance, as well as a considerably increase of strength when compared with their coarse grain counterparts. All those improved properties are attributed to the high volume fraction of grain boundaries (GBs). However, the high density of GBs brings a large amount of excess enthalpy to the whole system, making the nanostructures unstable and suffer from severe thermal or mechanical grain growth. In order to maintain the advantageous properties of nanocrystalline materials, it is necessary to stabilize GB and inhibit grain growth. While alloying has been found to be an effective way of achieving stabilized nanocrystalline metal alloys experimentally, the direct quantification of solute effects on GB motion still poses great challenge for investigating thermal stability of general nanocrystalline materials. In this research, impurity segregation and solute drag effects on GB motion were investigated by extending the interface random-walk method in direct molecular dynamics simulations. It was found that the GB motion was controlled by the solute diffusion perpendicular to the boundary plane. Based on the simulation results at different temperatures and impurity concentrations, the solute drag effects can be well modeled by the theory proposed by Cahn, Lücke and Stüwe (CLS model) more than fifty years ago. However, a correction to the original CLS model needs to be made in order to quantitatively predict the solute drag effects on a moving GB.