Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 51, Issue 14, pp 6607–6623 | Cite as

Exploration of the mechanisms of temperature-dependent grain boundary mobility: search for the common origin of ultrafast grain boundary motion

  • C. J. O’Brien
  • S. M. Foiles
Original Paper


The temperature dependence of grain boundary mobility is complex, varied, and rarely fits ideal Arrhenius behavior. This work presents a series of case studies of planar grain boundaries in a model FCC system that were previously demonstrated to exhibit a variety of temperature-dependent mobility behaviors. It is demonstrated that characterization of the mobility versus temperature plots is not sufficient to predict the atomic motion mechanism of the grain boundaries. Herein, the temperature-dependent motion and atomistic motion mechanisms of planar grain boundaries are driven by a synthetic, orientation-dependent, driving force. The systems studied include CSL boundaries with \(\Sigma \) values of 5, 7, and 15, including both symmetric and asymmetric boundaries. These boundaries represent a range of temperature-dependent trends including thermally activated, antithermal, and roughening behaviors. Examining the atomic-level motion mechanisms of the thermally activated boundaries reveals that each involves a complex shuffle, and at least one atom that changes the plane it resides on. The motion mechanism of the antithermal boundary is qualitatively different and involves an in-plane coordinated shuffle that rotates atoms about a fixed atom lying on a point in the coincident site lattice. This provides a mechanistic reason for the observed high mobility, even at low temperatures, which is due to the low activation energy needed for such motion. However, it will be demonstrated that this mechanism is not universal, or even common, to other boundaries exhibiting non-thermally activated motion. This work concludes that no single atomic motion mechanism is sufficient to explain the existence of non-thermally activated boundary motion.


Motion Mechanism Boundary Motion Rotation Center Diffusive Motion Tilt Boundary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank D.C. Bufford, T.A. Furnish, F. Abdeljawad, B.L. Boyce, and K. Hattar for their time in reviewing and providing insightful comments on the manuscript making it clearer and more applicable to a wider audience. The work was fully supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division, under FWP Award #15013170. Work was performed at Sandia National Laboratories, a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10853_2016_9944_MOESM1_ESM.mp4 (19.5 mb)
The animation contained in ESM_1.mp4 is separated into four panes illustrating boundary motion with various metrics. The animation is of B; a \(\Sigma 7\) \((12\,3\,1)/(9\,8\,3)\) boundary that exhibits antithermal motion. The uppermost frame shows a perspective view of the entire system illustrating the rate and direction of boundary motion and is colored by the CentroSymmetry Parameter (CSP) [18]. The CSP coloring illustrates the deviation from the perfect FCC structure of the regions surrounding an atom, a non-zero value indicates that the immediate neighborhood of an atom is plastically deformed. The second pane again shows the CSP but only including the atoms lying in a close-packed plane common to both crystals. The next pane shows the propagation of the grain boundary along a close-packed plane colored by microrotation [45]. This metric colors atoms only by the rotation of their immediate environment. This pane contains the same information as Fig. 9, but oriented identically to the other panes in the animation. The bottom pane reproduces Fig. 6 which is colored by magnitude of the slip-vector [55]. The slip-vector is similar to an atom’s Burger’s vector. It measures the deformation between an atom and it neighbors. The slip-vector is additive so that it retains information regarding the deformation history of the atom. Supplementary material 1 (MP4 20018 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA

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