Mechanical grain growth in nanocrystalline copper

Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Jun 2;96(21):215506. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.215506. Epub 2006 Jun 2.


Nanograined materials have some unusual properties. To maintain the small size of the grains, grain growth should be avoided. But recently grain growth has been observed under an indenter at liquid-nitrogen temperatures. Such grain growth has never been reported before. How can this happen and how can it be prevented? These questions are answered here using a simple tilt boundary. It is found that high purity and nonequilibrium structure are necessary conditions for mechanical grain growth. The material must be pure enough so that free dislocations are available to move out of the boundary. But the boundary should not be in the lowest-energy state so that extra dislocations are available to be emitted by stress. Based on these conditions, methods can be devised to avoid low temperature grain growth.