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The authors show using atomistic simulations that stress-driven grain growth can be obtained in the athermal limit during nanocrystalline aluminum indentation. They find that the grain growth results from rotation of nanograins and propagation of shear bands. Together, these mechanisms are shown to lead to the unstable migration of grain boundaries via process of coupled motion. An analytical model is used to explain this behavior based on the atomic-level shear stress acting on the interfaces during the shear band propagation. This study sheds light on the atomic mechanism at play during the abnormal grain coarsening observed at low temperature in nanocrystalline metals

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Applied Physics Letters

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V. Dupont is Virginie Rollin