The role of grain boundary character in solute segregation and thermal stability of nanocrystalline Pt–Au†
Nanocrystalline (NC) metals suffer from an intrinsic thermal instability; their crystalline grains undergo rapid coarsening during processing treatments or under service conditions. Grain boundary (GB) solute segregation has been proposed to mitigate grain growth and thermally stabilize the grain structures of NC metals. However, the role of GB character in solute segregation and thermal stability of NC metals remains poorly understood. Herein, we employ high resolution microscopy techniques, atomistic simulations, and theoretical analysis to investigate and characterize the impact of GB character on segregation behavior and thermal stability in a model NC Pt–Au alloy. High resolution electron microscopy along with X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy and automated crystallographic orientation mapping is used to obtain spatially correlated Pt crystal orientation, GB misorientation, and Au solute concentration data. Atomistic simulations of polycrystalline Pt–Au systems are used to reveal the plethora of GB segregation profiles as a function of GB misorientation and the corresponding impact on grain growth processes. With the aid of theoretical models of interface segregation, the experimental data for GB concentration profiles are used to extract GB segregation energies, which are then used to elucidate the impact of GB character on solute drag effects. Our results highlight the paramount role of GB character in solute segregation behavior. In broad terms, our approach provides future avenues to employ GB segregation as a microstructure design strategy to develop NC metallic alloys with tailored microstructures.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles