Diffuse interface model for structural transitions of grain boundaries

TitleDiffuse interface model for structural transitions of grain boundaries
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsTang, M, Carter, WCraig, Cannon, RM
JournalPhysical Review B
Date Published2006/01//

The conditions for structural transitions at the core of a grain boundary separating two crystals was investigated with a diffuse interface model that incorporates disorder and crystal orientation [Kobayashi , Physica D 140, 141 (2000)]. The model predicts that limited structural disorder near the grain boundary core can be favorable below the melting point. This disordered material is a precursor to a liquid phase and therefore the model represents grain boundary premelting. This model is shown to be isomorphic to Cahn's critical point wetting theory [J.W. Cahn, J. Chem. Phys. 66, 3667 (1977)] and predicts first- and higher-order structural grain boundary transitions. A graphical construction predicts the equilibrium grain boundary core disorder, the grain boundary energy density, and the relative stability of multiple grain boundary "complexions." The graphical construction permits qualitative inference of the effect of model properties, such as empirical homogeneous free energy density and assumed gradient energy coefficients, on properties. A quantitative criterion is derived which determines whether a first-order grain boundary transition will occur. In those systems where first-order transition does occur, they are limited to intermediate grain-boundary misorientations and to a limited range of temperatures below the melting point. Larger misorientations lead to continuously increasing disorder up to the melting point at which the disorder matches a liquid state. Smaller misorientation continuously disorder but are not completely disordered at the melting point. Characteristic grain boundary widths and energies are calculated as is the width's divergence behavior at the melting point. Grain boundary phase diagrams are produced. The relations between the model's predictions and atomistic simulations and with experimental observations are examined.