Origins and implications of temperature-dependent activation energy barriers for dislocation nucleation in face-centered cubic metals
The linking of atomistic simulations of stress-driven processes to experimentally observed mechanical behavior via the computation of activation energy barriers is a topic of intense current research. Using dislocation nucleation from a crack tip as the reaction process, long-time multiscale molecular dynamics simulations show that the activation barrier can exhibit significant temperature dependence. Using an analytic model for the nucleation process and computing the relevant material properties (elastic constants and stacking fault energies), the temperature dependence is shown to arise primarily from the temperature dependence of the material parameters for both Al and Ni. After thermally activated emission of the first partial dislocation, there is then a competition between two other thermally activated processes: twinning and full dislocation emission. Because the activation barriers depend on temperature, this transition is more complex than Usually envisioned. Simulations in Al reveal that a transition from twinning to full dislocation emission back to twinning occurs with increasing temperature, which is counter to traditional metallurgical wisdom. Temperature-dependent activation energies are thus essential to accurate understanding and prediction of those phenomena that control fracture and deformation in metals at realistic loading rates. (C) 2009 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.