Phase field crystal modeling of early stage precipitation and clustering Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • A phase field crystal model is used to investigate the mechanisms of formation and growth of early clusters in quenched/aged dilute binary alloys, a phenomenon typically outside the scope of molecular dynamics time scales. We show that formation of early sub-critical clusters is triggered by the stress relaxation effect of quenched-in defects, such as dislocations, on the energy barrier and the critical size for nucleation. In particular, through analysis of system energetics, we demonstrate that the growth of sub-critical clusters into overcritical sizes occurs due to the fact that highly strained areas in the lattice locally reduce or even eliminate the free energy barrier for a first-order transition.