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Size-dependent plastic deformation of twinned nanopillars in body-centered cubic tungsten

Compared with face-centered cubic metals, twinned nanopillars in body-centered cubic (BCC) systems are much less explored partly due to the more complicated plastic deformation behavior and a lack of reliable interatomic potentials for the latter. In this paper, the fault energies predicted by two semi-empirical interatomic potentials in BCC tungsten (W) are first benchmarked against density functional theory calculations. Then, the more accurate potential is employed in large scale molecular dynamics simulations of tensile and compressive loading of twinned nanopillars in BCC W with different cross sectional shapes and sizes. A single crystal, a twinned crystal, and single crystalline nanopillars are also studied as references. Analyses of the stress-strain response and defect nucleation reveal a strong tension-compression asymmetry and a weak pillar size dependence in the yield strength. Under both tensile and compressive loading, plastic deformation in the twinned nanopillars is dominated by dislocation slip on {110} planes that are nucleated from the intersections between the twin boundary and the pillar surface. It is also found that the cross sectional shape of nanopillars affects the strength and the initial site of defect nucleation but not the overall stress-strain response and plastic deformation behavior.

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