Reaching theoretical strengths in nanocrystalline Cu by grain boundary doping

N. Q. Vo*, J. Schäfer, R. S. Averback, K. Albe, Y. Ashkenazy, P. Bellon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The yield strength of dilute nc-Cu alloys was investigated using molecular dynamics simulations. Alloying additions that lower grain boundary energy were found to dramatically increase the yield strength of the alloy, with dilute Cu-Nb alloys approaching the theoretical strength of Cu. These findings suggest a new scaling behavior for the onset of plasticity in nanocrystalline materials, one that ldepends on the product of the specific grain boundary energy and molar fraction of grain boundary atoms, and not simply on grain size alone.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)660-663
Number of pages4
JournalScripta Materialia
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences under grant DEFG02–05ER46217 and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ( FOR714 ). The authors gratefully acknowledge the use of the Turing cluster maintained and operated by the Computational Science and Engineering Program at the University of Illinois. Turing is a 1536-processor Apple G5 X-serve cluster devoted to high performance computing in engineering and science. Grants of computer time from Forschungszentrum Jülich and HHLR at TU Darmstadt and FZ Jülich are also acknowledged. J.S. is grateful for the support of his visiting stay at UIUC by DAAD.


  • Copper
  • Hall-Petch
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Nanocrystalline alloy
  • Yield strength


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