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Twin boundary spacing-dependent friction in nanotwinned copper
The deformation mechanisms of nanotwinned Cu subjected to nanoscratching are investigated by means of molecular dynamics simulations. Scratching simulations on nanotwinned single-crystalline Cu with the twin planes parallel and perpendicular to the scratching direction are performed. Since the detwinning mechanism is completely suppressed in the former case, no apparent correlation between frictional coefficient and the twin spacing is observed. In samples where the twin planes are perpendicular to the scratching direction, the friction increases as the twin spacing decreases, and then decreases as the twin spacings become even smaller. It results from the competitive plastic deformation between the inclined dislocations and the detwinning mechanism. Subsequent simulations for nanotwinned polycrystalline Cu unveil that in addition to the grain-boundary-associated deformation mechanism, dislocation-mediated detwinning plays a significant role in the plastic deformation of nanotwinned Cu. The twin boundary spacing in turn affects nanotwinned materials to resist scratching via plastic deformation. We demonstrate via the nanoscratching tests that there exists a critical twin boundary spacing for which the friction coefficient is maximized and that this transition results from the competing deformation mechanisms in those nanotwinned materials.