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Published April 2016 | public
Journal Article

An analytical model of interfacial energy based on a lattice-matching interatomic energy


We develop an explicit model for the interfacial energy in crystals that emphasizes the geometric origin of the cusps in the energy profile. We start by formulating a general class of interatomic energies that are reference-configuration-free but explicitly incorporate the lattice geometry of the ground state. In particular, away from the interface the energy is minimized by a perfect lattice. We build these attributes into the energy by locally matching, as best as possible, a perfect lattice to the atomic positions and then quantifying the local energy in terms of the inevitable remaining mismatch, hence the term lattice-matching used to describe the resulting interatomic energy. Based on this general energy, we formulate a simpler rigid-lattice model in which the atomic positions on both sides of the interface coincide with perfect, but misoriented, lattices. In addition, we restrict the lattice-matching operation to a binary choice between the perfect lattices on both sides of the interface. Finally, we prove an L^2-bound on the interatomic energy and use that bound as a basis for comparison with experiment. We specifically consider symmetric tilt grain boundaries (STGB), symmetric twist grain boundaries (STwGB) and asymmetric twist grain boundaries (ATwGB) in face-centered cubic (FCC) and body-centered cubic (BCC) crystals. Two or more materials are considered for each choice of crystal structure and boundary class, with the choice of materials conditioned by the availability of molecular dynamics data. Despite the approximations made, we find very good overall agreement between the predicted interfacial energy structure and that calculated by molecular dynamics. In particular, the positions of the cusps are predicted well, and therefore, although surface reconstruction and faceting are not included in the model, the dominant orientations of the facets are correctly predicted by our geometrical model.

Additional Information

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Received 21 June 2015; Received in revised form 23 October 2015; Accepted 16 January 2016; Available online 9 February 2016. Brandon Runnels and Michael Ortiz would like to thank the NNSA's High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas program under Award #DE-NA0001805. Brandon Runnels additionally thanks the Los Alamos National Laboratory Seaborg Institute for support during Summer 2014. Irene Beyerlein would like to acknowledge support by a Laboratory Directed Research and Development program Award number 20140348ER. Sergio Conti would like to acknowledge support of the DFG under SFB 1060.

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