Density functional theory study of solute cluster growth processes in Mg-Y-Zn LPSO alloys
Itakura, Mitsuhiro ; Yamaguchi, Masatake ; Egusa, Daisuke*; Abe, Eiji*
Solute cluster in LPSO alloys plays a key role in their idiosyncratic plastic behavior such as kink formation and kink strengthening. Identifying the atomistic details of the cluster structure is a prerequisite for any atomistic modeling of LPSO alloys aiming for their improved strength and ductility, but there have been uncertainty about interstitial atom in the cluster. While density functional theory calculations have shown that inclusion of interstitial atom is energetically favorable, it has been unclear how the extra atom is provided, how much of the cluster have interstitial atoms, and what kind of element they are. In the present work we use density functional theory calculations to investigate the growth process of the solute cluster, specifically that of Mg-Y-Zn LPSO alloy, to determine the precise atomistic structure of solute cluster. We show that a pair of an interstitial atom and a vacancy is spontaneously created when a certain number of solute atoms are absorbed into the cluster, and all the full-grown cluster should include interstitial atom. We also show that interstitial atom is either Mg or Y atom, while Zn interstitial atom is extremely rare. These knowledge greatly simplifies atomistic modeling of solute clusters in Mg-Y-Zn alloy. Owing to the vacancies emitted from the cluster, vacancy density should be over-saturated in regions where solute clusters are growing, and the increased vacancy density accelerates cluster growth.