Scaling effects on grain boundary diffusivity; Au in Cu

Kaiping Tai, Shen J. Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work quantifies the effect of grain size on grain boundary diffusivity. Diffusion of Au into Cu thin films of varying grain size is measured using secondary ion mass spectroscopy depth profiles. Appropriate models for fitting the composition profiles to analytical solutions to diffusion equations are identified by characterizing the microstructure both before and after the diffusion anneal. Finite-element numerical simulations are also employed to extract the diffusion coefficients directly from fits to experimental data. The results indicate that factors such as non-columnar grains, migrating grain boundaries, dislocations and stress gradients must be appropriately accounted for in order to obtain meaningful results. Overall, a strong scaling effect is not observed, which suggests that the atomic structure of boundaries in nanocrystalline thin-film materials probably resembles that of their coarse-grained counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1851-1861
Number of pages11
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Copper alloys
  • Grain boundary diffusion
  • Nanocrystalline microstructure
  • Scanning/transmission electron microscopy
  • Secondary ion mass spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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