Vacancy diffusion in multi-principal element alloys: The role of chemical disorder in the ordered lattice

SL Thomas and S Patala, ACTA MATERIALIA, 196, 144-153 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2020.06.022

Many of the purported virtues of Multi-Principal Element Alloys (MPEAs), such as corrosion, high-temperature oxidation and irradiation resistance, are highly sensitive to vacancy diffusivity. Similarly, solute interdiffusion is governed by vacancy diffusion. It is also often unclear whether MPEAs are truly stable or effectively stabilized by slow interdiffusion. The considerable composition space afforded to these alloys makes optimizing for desired properties a daunting task; theoretical and computational tools are necessary to guide alloy development. For diffusion, such tools depend on both a knowledge of the vacancy migration barriers within a given alloy and an understanding of how these barriers influence vacancy diffusivity. We present a generalized theory of vacancy diffusion in rugged energy landscapes, paired with Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations of MPEA vacancy diffusion. The barrier energy statistics are informed by nudged elastic band calculations in the equiatomic CoNiCrFeMn alloy. Theory and simulations show that vacancy diffusion in solid-solution MPEAs is not necessarily sluggish, but can potentially be tuned, and that trap models are an insufficient explanation for sluggish diffusion in the CoNiCrFeMn HEA. These results also show that any model that endeavors to faithfully represent diffusion-related phenomena must account for the full nature of the energy landscape, not just the migration barriers. (C) 2020 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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