The Role of Grain Boundary Diffusion in the Solute Drag Effect

RK Koju and Y Mishin, NANOMATERIALS, 11, 2348 (2021).

DOI: 10.3390/nano11092348

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are applied to study solute drag by curvature-driven grain boundaries (GBs) in Cu-Ag solid solution. Although lattice diffusion is frozen on the MD timescale, the GB significantly accelerates the solute diffusion and alters the state of short-range order in lattice regions swept by its motion. The accelerated diffusion produces a nonuniform redistribution of the solute atoms in the form of GB clusters enhancing the solute drag by the Zener pinning mechanism. This finding points to an important role of lateral GB diffusion in the solute drag effect. A 1.5 at.%Ag alloying reduces the GB free energy by 10-20% while reducing the GB mobility coefficients by more than an order of magnitude. Given the greater impact of alloying on the GB mobility than on the capillary driving force, kinetic stabilization of nanomaterials against grain growth is likely to be more effective than thermodynamic stabilization aiming to reduce the GB free energy.

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