Molecular dynamics simulation and theoretical modeling of free surface effect on nanocrack initiation induced by grain boundary sliding in nanocrystalline materials

XT Li and WT Ma, MATERIALS LETTERS, 304, 130647 (2021).

DOI: 10.1016/j.matlet.2021.130647

Free surfaces have significant effects on plastic deformation and fracture of nanocrystalline materials (NMs), especially for nano- or micro- scale specimens. To reveal the influence mechanism of free surfaces on crack initiation and growth, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are carried out. The results show nanocrack initiation at triple junctions near free surfaces and the intergranular fracture due to nanocrack growth and coalescence. Based on the mechanism captured by MD, a theoretical model is established to describe the process of grain boundary (GB) dislocation evolution and nanocrack initiation. The critical stress for nanocrack initiation and the critical magnitude of GB sliding step are obtained for nanocrystalline nickel, aluminum and copper. Based on the proposed theoretical model, the fracture behaviors are discussed for the three nanomaterials.

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