Mauricio Ponga de la Torre
Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
The dynamic behaviour and failure mechanisms of nano-sized voids in single crystals is studied for three hexagonal close-packed materials by means of molecular dynamics simulations. Our study reveals that in Magnesium the response is highly anisotropic leading to a brittle to ductile transition in the failure modes under different load orientations. This transition is accompanied by different mechanisms of deformation and is associated with the anisotropic HCP lattice structure of Mg and the associated barrier for dislocation motion. Remarkably, brittle failure is observed when external loads produce a high stress triaxiality while the response is more ductile when the stress triaxiality decreases. On the other hand, the failure in other two hexagonal close-packed materials studied in this work, i.e, Titanium and Zirconium, is more ductile, in high contrast with the brittle failure observed in Magnesium. We find that this difference is due to the fact that nano-sized voids in Titanium and Zirconium emit substantially more dislocations than Magnesium, allowing for large displacements of the atoms and plastic work, including non-basal planes. Based on our findings, we postulate that this brittle failure in Magnesium is due to a competition between dislocations emission in the basal plane and crack propagation in non-basal planes. Thus, we propose to use the ratio between unstable stacking fault and surface energy in these materials to assess the tendency of hexagonal close-packed materials and alloys to fail under brittle or ductile modes. Using this ratio, we critically identify the low surface energy of Mg as responsible for this brittle behaviour and recommend that Mg-based alloys with large surface energies can lead to better performance for dynamic applications. The fundamental mechanisms observed, therefore, explain the low spall strength of Mg and suggest the possibility of manipulating some mechanisms to increase ductility and spall strength of new lightweight Mg alloys.