Intergranular fracture in nanocrystalline metals
Crack propagation studies in nanocrystalline Ni samples with mean grain sizes ranging from 5 to 12 nm are reported using atomistic simulations. For all grain sizes pure intergranular fracture is observed. Intergranular fracture is shown to proceed by the coalescence of microvoids formed at the grain boundaries ahead of the crack. The energy released during propagation is higher than the Griffith value, indicating an additional grain-boundary accommodation mechanism.