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Proliferation of Twinning in Metals: Application to Magnesium Alloys


Sun, Dingyi (2018) Proliferation of Twinning in Metals: Application to Magnesium Alloys. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z93B5XB4.


In the search for new alloys with a great strength-to-weight ratio, magnesium has emerged at the forefront. With a strength rivaling that of steel and aluminum alloys --- materials which are deployed widely in real world applications today --- but only a fraction of the density, magnesium holds great promise in a variety of next-generation applications. Unfortunately, the widespread adoption of magnesium is hindered by the fact that it fails in a brittle fashion, which is undesirable when it comes to plastic deformation mechanisms. Consequently, one must design magnesium alloys to navigate around this shortcoming and fail in a more ductile fashion.

However, such designs are not possible without a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms of deformation in magnesium, which is somewhat contested at the moment. In addition to slip, which is one of the dominant mechanisms in metallic alloys, a mechanism known as twinning is also present, especially in hexagonal close-packed (HCP) materials such as magnesium. Twinning involves the reorientation of the material lattice about a planar discontinuity and has been shown as one of the preferred mechanisms by which magnesium accommodates out-of-plane deformation. Unfortunately, twinning is not particularly well-understood in magnesium, and needs to be addressed before progress can be made in materials design. In particular, though two specific modes of twinning have been acknowledged, various works in the literature have identified a host of additional modes, many of which have been cast aside as "anomalous" observations.

To this end, we introduce a new framework for predicting the modes by which a material can twin, for any given material. Focusing on magnesium, we begin our investigation by introducing a kinematic framework that predicts novel twin configurations, cataloging these twins modes by their planar normal and twinning shear. We then subject the predicted twin modes to a series of atomistic simulations, primarily in molecular statics but with supplementary calculations using density functional theory, giving us insight on both the energy of the twin interface and barriers to formation. We then perform a stress analysis and identify the twin modes which are most likely to be activated, thus finding the ones most likely to affect the yield surface of magnesium.

Over the course of our investigation, we show that many different modes actually participate on the yield surface of magnesium; the two classical modes which are accepted by the community are confirmed, but many additional modes --- some of which are close to modes which have been previously regarded as anomalies --- are also observed. We also perform some extensional work, showing the flexibility of our framework in predicting twins in other materials and in other environments and highlighting the complicated nature of twinning, especially in HCP materials.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Twinning, computational mechanics, molecular statics, density functional theory, atomistic simulations
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik (co-advisor)
  • Ortiz, Michael (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Ortiz, Michael (chair)
  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
  • Ponga, Mauricio
Defense Date:5 July 2017
Non-Caltech Author Email:dingyi_sun (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08042017-190200194
Persistent URL:
Sun, Dingyi0000-0003-2109-7123
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10365
Deposited By: Dingyi Sun
Deposited On:11 Sep 2017 20:38
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:17

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