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Designing nanomaterials with desired mechanical properties by constraining the evolution of their grain shapes

Thomas Bobga Tengen

Author Affiliations

Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Vaal University of Technology, Private Bag X021, Vanderbijlpark 1900, South Africa

Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:585  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-585

Published: 8 November 2011


Grain shapes are acknowledged to impact nanomaterials' overall properties. Research works on this issue include grain-elongation and grain-strain measurements and their impacts on nanomaterials' mechanical properties. This paper proposes a stochastic model for grain strain undergoing severe plastic deformation. Most models deal with equivalent radii assuming that nanomaterials' grains are spherical. These models neglect true grain shapes. This paper also proposes a theoretical approach of extending existing models by considering grain shape distribution during stochastic design and modelling of nanomaterials' constituent structures and mechanical properties. This is achieved by introducing grain 'form'. Example 'forms' for 2-D and 3-D grains are proposed. From the definitions of form, strain and Hall-Petch-Relationship to Reversed-Hall-Petch-Relationship, data obtained for nanomaterials' grain size and conventional materials' properties are sufficient for analysis. Proposed extended models are solved simultaneously and tested with grain growth data. It is shown that the nature of form evolution depends on form choice and dimensional space. Long-run results reveal that grain boundary migration process causes grains to become spherical, grain rotation coalescence makes them deviate away from becoming spherical and they initially deviate away from becoming spherical before converging into spherical ones due to the TOTAL process. Percentage deviations from spherical grains depend on dimensional space and form: 0% minimum and 100% maximum deviations were observed. It is shown that the plots for grain shape functions lie above the spherical (control) value of 1 in 2-D grains for all considered grain growth mechanisms. Some plots lie above the spherical value, and others approach the spherical value before deviating below it when dealing with 3-D grains. The physical interpretations of these variations are explained from elementary principles about the different grain growth mechanisms. It is observed that materials whose grains deviate further away from the spherical ones have more enhanced properties, while materials with spherical grains have lesser properties. It is observed that there exist critical states beyond which Hall-Petch Relationship changes to Reversed Hall-Petch Relationship. It can be concluded that if grain shapes in nanomaterials are constrained in the way they evolve, then nanomaterials with desired properties can be designed.

grain shape; grain strain; strain rate; grain size; grain form functions; grain growth; nanomaterials' mechanical properties