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Ultramicroscopy. 2013 Sep;132:164-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2012.12.002. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Nano-analysis of grain boundary and triple junction transport in nanocrystalline Ni/Cu.

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  • 1Institute of Materials Physics, Westf. Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 10, D-48149 Münster, Germany; Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères, Faculté des Sciences, Université d'Oran, Algérie. Electronic address:


Nanocrystalline materials are distinguished by a high density of structural defects and grain boundaries. Due to the small grain size, a particular defect of the grain boundary topology, the so-called triple junction takes a dominant role for grain growth and atomic transport. We demonstrate by atom probe tomography that triple junctions in nanocrystalline Cu have 100-300 times higher diffusivity of Ni than standard high angle grain boundaries. Also, a previously unexpected systematic variation of the grain boundary width with temperature is detected. The impurity segregation layer at the grain boundaries grows from the 0.7 nm at 563 K to 2.5 nm at 643 K. This variation is clearly not controlled by simple bulk diffusion. Taking this effect into consideration, the activation energies for Ni diffusion in triple junctions and grain boundaries in Cu can be determined to be (83 ± 10) and (120 ± 15) kJ/mol, respectively. Thus, triple junctions are distinguished by considerably lower activation energy with respect to grain boundaries.

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Atom probe tomography; Copper; Grain boundary; Nanocrystalline metals; Nickel; Triple junctions

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