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A Maximum in the Strength of Nanocrystalline Copper

Science  05 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5638, pp. 1357-1359
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086636

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Abstract

We used molecular dynamics simulations with system sizes up to 100 million atoms to simulate plastic deformation of nanocrystalline copper. By varying the grain size between 5 and 50 nanometers, we show that the flow stress and thus the strength exhibit a maximum at a grain size of 10 to 15 nanometers. This maximum is because of a shift in the microscopic deformation mechanism from dislocation-mediated plasticity in the coarse-grained material to grain boundary sliding in the nanocrystalline region. The simulations allow us to observe the mechanisms behind the grain-size dependence of the strength of polycrystalline metals.

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