Observation of Giant Diffusivity Along Dislocation Cores

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Science  21 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5870, pp. 1646-1649
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151771

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Diffusion of atoms in a crystalline lattice is a thermally activated process that can be strongly accelerated by defects such as grain boundaries or dislocations. When carried by dislocations, this elemental mechanism is known as “pipe diffusion.” Pipe diffusion has been used to explain abnormal diffusion, Cottrell atmospheres, and dislocation-precipitate interactions during creep, although this rests more on conjecture than on direct demonstration. The motion of dislocations between silicon nanoprecipitates in an aluminum thin film was recently observed and controlled via in situ transmission electron microscopy. We observed the pipe diffusion phenomenon and measured the diffusivity along a single dislocation line. It is found that dislocations accelerate the diffusion of impurities by almost three orders of magnitude as compared with bulk diffusion.

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