Three-Dimensional Atomic Structure of Grain Boundaries Resolved by Atomic-Resolution Electron Tomography

CY Wang and HC Duan and CJ Chen and P Wu and DQ Qi and HQ Ye and HJ Jin and HLL Xin and K Du, MATTER, 3, 1999-2011 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.matt.2020.09.003

Grain boundaries (GBs) determine the properties of polycrystals, and tailoring the GB structure offers a promising method for the discovery and engineering of new materials. However, GB structures are far from well understood because of their structural complexity and limitations of conventional projection imaging methods. Here, we decipher three- dimensional atomic structure and crystallography of GBs in nanometals using atomic-resolution electron tomography. Unlike conventional descriptions, whereby they are either straight or curved planar planes with one-dimensional translational symmetry, we show that the high-angle GBs completely lose translational symmetry due to undulated curvature related to configurations of structural units. Moreover, we directly visualize kinks and jogs at the single-atom scale in dislocation-type GBs and investigate their mobilities. Our findings bring new insights to the conventional wisdom of GBs and show the importance of developing methods to include the non-planar nature of GBs to statistically evaluate the behavior of GBs in modeling studies.

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