The effects of irradiation on 3C-silicon carbide (SiC) and amorphous SiC (a-SiC) are investigated using both in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and complementary molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The single ion strikes identified in the in situ TEM irradiation experiments, utilizing a 1.7 MeV Au3+ ion beam with nanosecond resolution, are contrasted to MD simulation results of the defect cascades produced by 10-100 keV Si primary knock-on atoms (PKAs). The MD simulations also investigated defect structures that could possibly be responsible for the observed strain fields produced by single ion strikes in the TEM ion beam irradiation experiments. Both MD simulations and in situ TEM experiments show evidence of radiation damage in 3C-SiC but none in a-SiC. Selected area electron diffraction patterns, based on the results of MD simulations and in situ TEM irradiation experiments, show no evidence of structural changes in either 3C-SiC or a-SiC.
Nanocrystalline metals offer significant improvements in structural performance over conventional alloys. However, their performance is limited by grain boundary instability and limited ductility. Solute segregation has been proposed as a stabilization mechanism, however the solute atoms can embrittle grain boundaries and further degrade the toughness. In the present study, we confirm the embrittling effect of solute segregation in Pt-Au alloys. However, more importantly, we show that inhomogeneous chemical segregation to the grain boundary can lead to a new toughening mechanism termed compositional crack arrest. Energy dissipation is facilitated by the formation of nanocrack networks formed when cracks arrested at regions of the grain boundaries that were starved in the embrittling element. This mechanism, in concert with triple junction crack arrest, provides pathways to optimize both thermal stability and energy dissipation. A combination of in situ tensile deformation experiments and molecular dynamics simulations elucidate both the embrittling and toughening processes that can occur as a function of solute content.
There has recently been a great deal of interest in employing immiscible solutes to stabilize nanocrystalline microstructures. Existing modeling efforts largely rely on mesoscale Monte Carlo approaches that employ a simplified model of the microstructure and result in highly homogeneous segregation to grain boundaries. However, there is ample evidence from experimental and modeling studies that demonstrates segregation to grain boundaries is highly non-uniform and sensitive to boundary character. This work employs a realistic nanocrystalline microstructure with experimentally relevant global solute concentrations to illustrate inhomogeneous boundary segregation. Furthermore, experiments quantifying segregation in thin films are reported that corroborate the prediction that grain boundary segregation is highly inhomogeneous. In addition to grain boundary structure modifying the degree of segregation, the existence of a phase transformation between low and high solute content grain boundaries is predicted. In order to conduct this study, new embedded atom method interatomic potentials are developed for Pt, Au, and the PtAu binary alloy.