Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | (2021) 12:6695 | |


Open access


Grain boundary (GB) plasticity dominates the mechanical behaviours of nanocrystalline materials. Under mechanical loading, GB configuration and its local deformation geometry change dynamically with the deformation; the dynamic variation of GB deformability, however, remains largely elusive, especially regarding its relation with the frequently-observed GB-associated deformation twins in nanocrystalline materials. Attention here is focused on the GB dynamics in metallic nanocrystals, by means of well-designed in situ nanomechanical testing integrated with molecular dynamics simulations. GBs with low mobility are found to dynamically adjust their configurations and local deformation geometries via crystallographic twinning, which instantly changes the GB dynamics and enhances the GB mobility. This selfadjust twin-assisted GB dynamics is found common in a wide range of face-centred cubic nanocrystalline metals under different deformation conditions. These findings enrich our understanding of GB-mediated plasticity, especially the dynamic behaviour of GBs, and bear practical implication for developing high performance nanocrystalline materials through interface engineering.