Scale Effects in Crystal Plasticity



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The goal of this research work is to further the understanding of crystal plasticity, particularly at reduced structural and material length scales. Fundamental understanding of plasticity is central to various challenges facing design and manufacturing of materials for structural and electronic device applications. The development of microstructurally tailored advanced metallic materials with enhanced mechanical properties that can withstand extremes in stress, strain, and temperature, will aid in increasing the efficiency of power generating systems by allowing them to work at higher temperatures and pressures. High specific strength materials can lead to low fuel consumption in transport vehicles. Experiments have shown that enhanced mechanical properties can be obtained in materials by constraining their size, microstructure (e.g. grain size), or both for various applications. For the successful design of these materials, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the influence of different length scales and evolving microstructure on the overall behavior. In this study, distinction is made between the effect of structural and material length scale on the mechanical behavior of materials. A length scale associated with an underlying physical mechanism influencing the mechanical behavior can overlap with either structural length scales or material length scales. If it overlaps with structural length scales, then the material is said to be dimensionally constrained. On the other hand, if it overlaps with material length scales, for example grain size, then the material is said to be microstructurally constrained. The objectives of this research work are: (1) to investigate scale and size effects due to dimensional constraints; (2) to investigate size effects due to microstructural constraints; and (3) to develop a size dependent hardening model through coarse graining of dislocation dynamics. A discrete dislocation dynamics (DDD) framework where the scale of analysis is intermediate between a fully discretized (e.g. atomistic) and fully continuum is used for this study. This mesoscale tool allows to address all the stated objectives of this study within a single framework. Within this framework, the effect of structural and the material length scales are naturally accounted for in the simulations and need not be specified in an ad hoc manner, as in some continuum models. It holds the promise of connecting the evolution of the defect microstructure to the effective response of the crystal. Further, it provides useful information to develop physically motivated continuum models to model size effects in materials. The contributions of this study are: (a) provides a new interpretation of mechanical size effect due to only dimensional constraint using DDD; (b) a development of an experimentally validated DDD simulation methodology to model Cu micropillars; (c) a coarse graining technique using DDD to develop a phenomenological model to capture size effect on strain hardening; and (d) a development of a DDD framework for polycrystals to investigate grain size effect on yield strength and strain hardening.