Grain boundary structure search by using an evolutionary algorithm with effective mutation methods

CM Yang and MF Zhang and L Qi, COMPUTATIONAL MATERIALS SCIENCE, 184, 109812 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.commatsci.2020.109812

Grain boundaries (GBs) accommodate the misorientation between adjacent grains in a polycrystalline material. GBs are geometrically described by the macroscopic and microscopic degrees of freedom. Besides, at the atomistic level, GBs exhibit complicated behaviors under varying thermodynamic conditions. The complexity of atomistic GB structures demands stochastic searching for possible states. The effectiveness of stochastic search methods relies on techniques to recreate and select atomistic structures. In this work, we developed a new mutation operator that can induce direct and collective atomistic structure changes to boost the search efficiency of exploring GB structures with evolutionary algorithms (EA). We implemented the mutation methods along with innovative selection, crossover, boundary condition preprocessing methods to form an EA-based package to explore GB structures in grand canonical ensembles with atomistic simulations. We used this package to study the 001 symmetric tilt grain boundaries (STGBs) in FCC copper (Cu), the 110 STGBs in BCC tungsten (W), and the 1 (2) over bar 10 STGBs in HCP magnesium (Mg). The results show that our design and implementation based on new mutation procedures, selection, and boundary conditions provide a high-quality search of atomistic GB structures in the grand canonical ensemble for different crystal lattices.

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