Shear response of grain boundaries with metastable structures by molecular dynamics simulations
Grain boundaries (GBs) can play a role as the favored locations to annihilate point defects, such as interstitial atoms and vacancies. It is thus highly probable that different boundary structures can be simultaneously present in equilibrium with each other in the same GB, and thus the GB achieves a metastable state. However, the structural transition and deformation mechanism of such GBs are currently not well understood. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations were carried out to study the multiple structures of a Σ5(310)/ GB in bicrystal Al and to investigate the effect of structural multiplicity on the mechanical and kinetic properties of such a GB. Different GB structures were obtained by changing the starting atomic configuration of the bicrystal model, and the GB structures had significantly different atomic density. For the Σ5(310) GB with metastable structures, GB sliding was the dominant mechanism at a low temperature (T=10K) under shear stress. The sliding mechanism resulted from the uncoordinated transformation of the inhomogeneous structural units. The nucleation of voids was observed during GB sliding at the low temperature, and the voids subsequently evolved to a nanocrack at the boundary plane. Increasing the temperature can induce the structural transition of local GB structures and can change their overall kinetic properties. GB migration with occasional GB sliding dominated the deformation mechanism at elevated temperatures (T=300 and 600 K), and the migration process of the metastable GB structures is closely related to the thermally assisted diffusion mechanism.