An Atomistic Simulation Method for Oxygen Impurities in Aluminium Based on Variable Charge Molecular Dynamics

Impurities are known to have a significant impact on materials properties. In particular, the presence of impurities can change mechanical properties and stabilize the microstructure by reducing grain growth and recrystallization processes. In the past atomistic simulations, in particular molecular dynamics, have contributed a lot to the understanding of deformation mechanisms in nanocrystalline metals. Especially, insights into details of dislocation/GB interactions have been gained. Additionally, simulations on coupled grain boundary migration in bicrystalline samples have played an important role in understanding stress assisted grain growth in nanocrystalline metals. However, all these simulations have been performed on monatomic systems. This means that the role of impurities has not yet been considered in these simulations. Some of the important difference between experiments and simulations could be removed by introducing dilute O distributions to computational Al samples. For this purpose, a simulation method is required which can deal with the oxidation of Al atoms around the O impurities and which can simulate the ionic and metallic nature of bonding simultaneously. Here, a method is suggested which fulfills the requirements by modifying the variable charge method of Streitz and Mintmire [Phys. Rev. B 50, 11996 (1994)]. A local chemical potential approach which optimizes the charge on only those atoms expected to be ionic is developed. Additionally the EAM potential for the non-electrostatic interaction given in the publication of Streitz and Mintmire is substituted by empirical potentials which treat the Al-Al interactions with a well-known Al potential. The Al-O and O-O interactions in these EAM potentials are fitted for the simulation of dilute O impurities in Al and additionally for the simulation of corundum in case of a second potential. The aforementioned developments are applied to study the effect of O impurities on the deformation of nc Al. A fully three-dimensional nc sample containing 15 grains of 12 nm grain-size is deformed with a dilute O content in the triple junction lines. The impact of O impurities on dislocation propagation is also considered in a sample which consists of a single grain extracted from a large molecular dynamics simulation. This simulation geometry contains a perfect dislocation, which is pinned at the surrounding grain boundary network. Therefore it allows the study of pinning strength and after unpinning the propagation behavior of the dislocation under various O impurity distributions. Additionally, the role of O impurities on coupled GB migration is investigated by studying two bicrystalline samples with different O distributions in both of them. In the discussion, the emphasis is on the simulation method. Especially, the significance of the samples, simulation conditions and the performance of the method in the different applications are discussed. Additionally, the different developments (local chemical potential approach and EAM potentials) are critically analyzed and improvements for future simulations of impurities are suggested.

Van Swygenhoven, Helena
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis4702-9

 Record created 2010-04-01, last modified 2018-03-17

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