Partitioning of interstitial segregants during decohesion: a DFT case study of the Σ3 symmetric tilt grain boundary in ferritic steel
X. Huang, R. Janisch.
The effect of hydrogen atoms at grain boundaries in metals is usually detrimental to the cohesion of the interface. This effect can be quantified in terms of the strengthening energy, which is obtained following the thermodynamic model of Rice and Wang. A critical component of this model is the bonding or solution energy of the atoms to the free surfaces that are created during decohesion. At a grain boundary in a multicomponent system, it is not immediately clear how the different species would partition and distribute on the cleaved free surfaces. In this work, it is demonstrated that the choice of partitioning pattern has a significant effect on the predicted influence of H and C on grain boundary cohesion.To this end,the Σ3(112) symmetric tilt grain boundary in bcc Fe with different contents of interstitial C and H was studied, taking into account all possible distributions of the elements, as well as surface diffusion effects. H as a single element has a negative influence on grain boundary cohesion, independent of the details of the H distribution. C, on the other hand, can act both ways, enhancing or reducing the cohesion of the interface. The effect of mixed H and C compositions depends on the partition pattern. However, the general trend is that the number of detrimental cases increases with increasing H content. A decomposition of the strengthening energy into chemical and mechanical contributions shows that the elastic contribution dominates at high C contents, while the chemical contribution sets the trend for high H contents.
Different surface distributions of segregating elements during separation lead to a different effect on cohesion.