Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 319–329 | Cite as

First-Principles Study on the Grain Boundary Embrittlement of Metals by Solute Segregation: Part I. Iron (Fe)-Solute (B, C, P, and S) Systems

  • Masatake Yamaguchi
Symposium: International Symposium on Stress Corrosion Cracking in Structural Materials


The microscopic mechanism of grain boundary (GB) embrittlement in metals by solute segregation has been not well understood for many years. From first-principles calculations, we show here that the calculated cohesive energy (=2·surface energy − GB energy) of bcc Fe Σ3(111) symmetrical tilt grain boundary (STGB) is reduced by the segregation of sulfur (S) and phosphorous (P) while it is increased by the segregation of boron (B) and carbon (C). The rate of the decrease/increase in the cohesive energy is proportional to the experimental shift in the DBTT of high-purity iron with increasing segregation. This indicates that the change in the cohesive energy of GB plays a key role in the GB embrittlement of metals.


Grain Boundary Solute Atom Cohesive Energy Fracture Plane Maximum Tensile Stress 
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The author thanks J. Kameda, Y. Nishiyama, K. Onizawa, Y. Kaji, T. Tsukada, S. Jitsukawa, H. Kaburaki, K. Ebihara, and T. Suzudo for helpful discussions. This work was performed on the supercomputer SGI Altix 3900Bx2 in the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).


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© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and ASM International 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Computational Science and e-systemsJapan Atomic Energy AgencyTokai-muraJapan

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