Effect of solute segregation on thermal creep in dilute nanocyrstalline Cu alloys

Jonathan Schäfer, Yinon Ashkenazy, Karsten Albe, Robert S. Averback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of solute segregation on thermal creep in dilute nanocrystalline alloys (Cu-Nb, Cu-Fe, Cu-Zr) was studied at elevated temperatures using molecular dynamics simulations. A combined Monte-Carlo and molecular dynamics simulation technique was first used to equilibrate the distribution of segregating solutes. Then the creep rates of the diluted Cu samples were measured as functions of temperature, composition, load and accumulated strain. In Cu-Nb samples, the creep rates were observed to increase initially with strain, but then saturate at a value close to that obtained for alloys prepared by randomly locating the solute in the grain boundaries. This behavior is attributed to an increase in grain boundary volume and energy with added chemical disorder. At high temperatures, the apparent activation energy for creep was anomalously high, 3. eV, but only 0.3. eV at lower temperatures. This temperature dependence is found to correlate with atomic mobilities in bulk Cu-Nb glasses. Calculations of creep in nanocrystalline Cu alloys containing other solutes, Fe and Zr, show that the suppression of creep rate scales with their atomic volumes when dissolved in Cu.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • Creep
  • Grain boundary segregation
  • Grain boundary structure
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Nanocrystalline materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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