The relationship between grain boundary structure, defect mobility, and grain boundary sink efficiency
Nanocrystalline materials have received great attention due to their potential for improved functionality and have been proposed for extreme environments where the interfaces are expected to promote radiation tolerance. However, the precise role of the interfaces in modifying defect behavior is unclear. Using long-time simulations methods, we determine the mobility of defects and defect clusters at grain boundaries in Cu. We find that mobilities vary significantly with boundary structure and cluster size, with larger clusters exhibiting reduced mobility, and that interface sink efficiency depends on the kinetics of defects within the interface via the in-boundary annihilation rate of defects. Thus, sink efficiency is a strong function of defect mobility, which depends on boundary structure, a property that evolves with time. Further, defect mobility at boundaries can be slower than in the bulk, which has general implications for the properties of polycrystalline materials. Finally, we correlate defect energetics with the volumes of atomic sites at the boundary.