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Brown University scientists discover new principle in material science
Date:4/7/2010

Gao and Brown graduate student Xiaoyan Li dug a little further. The Brown scientists reproduced their collaborators' experiment in computer simulations involving 140 million atoms. They used a supercomputer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences in Tennessee, which allowed them to analyze the twin boundaries at the atomic scale. To their surprise, they saw an entirely new phenomenon: A highly ordered dislocation pattern controlled by nucleation had taken hold and dictated the copper's strength. The pattern was characterized by groups of atoms near the dislocation core and assembled in highly ordered, necklace-like patterns.

"They're not getting in each other's way. They're very organized," Gao said.

From the experiments and the computer modeling, the researchers theorize that at the nanoscale, dislocation nucleation can become the governing principle to determining a metal's strength or weakness. The authors presented a new equation in the Nature paper to describe the principle.

"Our work provides a concrete example of a source-controlled deformation mechanism in nanostructured materials for the first time and, as such, can be expected to have a profound impact on the field of materials science," Gao said.


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Contact: Richard Lewis
Richard_Lewis@brown.edu
401-863-3766
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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