Atomistic and multiscale modeling of plasticity in irradiated metals
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Irradiation induces a high concentration of defects in the structural materials of nuclear reactors, which are typically of body-centered cubic Iron (BCC Fe) and its alloys. The primary effect of irradiation is hardening which is caused by the blocking of dislocations with defects and defect clusters like point defects, self-interstitial loops, and voids. The dislocation-defect interactions are atomistic in nature due to the very small length and time scales involved, i.e., of the order of nanometers and picoseconds. To predict the effect of dislocation-defect interactions on the macroscopic mechanical and plastic behavior of the material, it is critically important to develop robust coupling schemes by which accurate atomic level physics of the rate-limiting kinetic processes can be informed into a coarse-grained model such as crystal plasticity. In this thesis we will develop an atomistically informed constitutive model. Relevant atomistic processes are identified from molecular dynamics simulations. The respective unit process studies are conducted using atomistic reaction pathway sampling methods like Nudged Elastic Band method. Stress-dependent activation energies and activation volumes are computed for various rate-liming unit processes like thermally activated dislocation motion via kinkpair nucleation, dislocation pinning due to self interstitial atom, etc. Constitutive laws are developed based on transition state theory, that informs the atomistically determined activation parameters into a coarse-grained crystal plasticity model. The macroscopic deformation behavior predicted by the crystal plasticity model is validated with experimental results and the characteristic features explained in the light of atomistic knowledge of the constituting kinetics. We also investigate on unique irradiation induced defects such as stacking fault tetrahedra, that are formed under non-irradiated condition. This thesis also includes our work on materials with internal interfaces that can resist irradiation induced damage. Overall, the research presented in this thesis involves the implementation and development of novel computational paradigm that encompasses computational approaches of various length and time scales towards robust predictions of the mechanical behavior of irradiated materials.