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Systematic electronic-structure investigation of substitutional impurity diffusion and flux coupling in bcc iron
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics, Reactor Physics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0562-9070
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics, Reactor Physics.
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics, Reactor Physics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2381-3309
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The diffusion properties of a wide range of impurities (transition metals and Al, Si, and P) in ferritic alloys are here investigated by means of a combined ab initio-atomic diffusion theory approach. The flux-coupling mechanisms and the solute diffusion coefficients are inferred from electronic-structure calculations of solute-defect interactions and microscopic jump frequencies. All properties except the second nearest-neighbor binding energy are found to have a characteristic bell shape as a function of the d-band filling for the 4d and 5d series, and an M-shape for the 3d row because of the out-of-trend behavior of Mn. The solute jump frequencies are governed by compressibility, which makes diffusion of large solutes faster, although this effect is partially compensated for by lower attempt frequencies and larger correlations with the vacancy. Diffusion coefficients are predicted in a wide temperature range, far below the experimentally-accessible temperatures. In accordance with experiments, Co is found to be a slow diffuser in iron, and the same behavior is predicted for Re, Os, and Ir impurities. Finally, flux-coupling phenomena depend on the iron jump frequencies next to a solute atom, which are mainly controlled by similar electronic interactions to those determining the binding energies. Vacancy drag and solute enrichment at sinks systematically arise below a solute-dependent temperature threshold, directly correlated with the electronic-level interactions at the equilibrium and the saddle-point states. Early transition metals with repulsive second nearest-neighbor interactions also diffuse via vacancy drag, although they show a lower temperature threshold than the late metals. This confirms that drag is the most common solute-vacancy coupling mechanism in iron at low temperatures, and this is likely to be confirmed as well for impurity diffusion in other transition metals. 

Keyword [en]
diffusion, impurities, ab initio, metals
National Category
Condensed Matter Physics
Research subject
Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-177519OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-177519DiVA: diva2:873139
Funder
Göran Gustafsson Foundation for promotion of scientific research at Uppala University and Royal Institute of TechnologyVattenfall ABEU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme
Note

QS 2015

Available from: 2015-11-23 Created: 2015-11-23 Last updated: 2015-11-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Multiscale modeling of atomic transport phenomena in ferritic steels
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Multiscale modeling of atomic transport phenomena in ferritic steels
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Defect-driven transport of impurities plays a key role in the microstructure evolution of alloys, and has a great impact on the mechanical properties at the macroscopic scale. This phenomenon is greatly enhanced in irradiated materials because of the large amount of radiation-induced crystal defects (vacancies and interstitials). For instance, the formation of nanosized solute clusters in neutron-irradiated reactor pressure vessel (RPV) ferritic steels has been shown to hinder dislocation motion and induce hardening and embrittlement. In Swedish RPV steels, this mechanical-property degradation is enhanced by the high content of manganese and nickel impurities. It has been suggested that the formation of Mn-Ni-rich clusters (which contain also Cu, Si, and P) might be the outcome of a dynamic process, where crystal defects act both as nucleation sites and solute carriers. Solute transport by point defects is therefore a crucial mechanism to understand the origin and the dynamics of the clustering process.

The first part of this work aims at modeling solute transport by point defects in dilute iron alloys, to identify the intrinsic diffusion mechanisms for a wide range of impurities. Transport and diffusion coefficients are obtained by combining accurate ab initio calculations of defect transition rates with an exact mean-field model. The results show that solute drag by single vacancies is a common phenomenon occurring at RPV temperature (about 300 °C) for all impurities found in the solute clusters, and that transport of phosphorus and manganese atoms is dominated by interstitial-type defects. These transport tendencies confirm that point defects can indeed carry impurities towards nucleated solute clusters. Moreover, the obtained flux-coupling tendencies can also explain the observed radiation-induced solute enrichment on grain boundaries and dislocations.

In the second part of this work, the acquired knowledge about solute-transport mechanisms is transferred to kinetic Monte Carlo (KMC) models, with the aim of simulating the RPV microstructure evolution. Firstly, the needed parameters in terms of solute-defect cluster stability and mobility are calculated by means of dedicated KMC simulations. Secondly, an innovative approach to the prediction of transition rates in complex multicomponent alloys is introduced. This approach relies on a neural network based on ab initio-computed migration barriers. Finally, the evolution of the Swedish RPV steels is simulated in a "gray-alloy" fashion, where impurities are introduced indirectly as a modification of the defect-cluster mobilities. The latter simulations are compared to the experimental characterization of the Swedish RPV surveillance samples, and confirm the possibility that solute clusters might form on small interstitial clusters.

In conclusion, this work identifies from a solid theoretical perspective the atomic-transport phenomena underlying the formation of embrittling nanofeatures in RPV steels. In addition, it prepares the ground for the development of predictive KMC tools that can simulate the microstructure evolution of a wide variety of irradiated alloys. This is of great interest not only for reactor pressure vessels, but also for many other materials in extreme environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. xvii, 90 p.
Series
TRITA-FYS, ISSN 0280-316X ; 2015:80
Keyword
diffusion, impurities, iron, metals, kinetic Monte Carlo, ab initio, mean field, defects, embrittlement, reactor pressure vessel, neural networks
National Category
Condensed Matter Physics
Research subject
Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-177525 (URN)978-91-7595-764-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-11, Svedberg Hall, Room FD5, Albanova Universtitetscentrum, Roslagstullsbacken 21, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Göran Gustafsson Foundation for promotion of scientific research at Uppala University and Royal Institute of TechnologyVattenfall ABEU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme
Note

QC 20151123

Available from: 2015-11-23 Created: 2015-11-23 Last updated: 2015-11-24Bibliographically approved

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