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 poly-crystalline metals.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|