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Simulation of defect nucleation in a crystal


Nanoindentation is the penetration of a surface to nanometre depths using an indenting device. It can be simulated using the Bragg bubble-raft model1, in which a close-packed array of soap bubbles corresponds to the equilibrium positions of atoms in a crystalline solid. Here we show that homogeneous defect nucleation occurs within a crystal when its surface roughness is comparable to the radius of the indenter tip, and that the depth of the nucleation site below the surface is proportional to the half-width of the contact. Our results may explain the unusually high local stress required for defect nucleation in nano-indented face-centred cubic crystals.

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Figure 1: Dislocation nucleation during nanoindentation.


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Correspondence to Subra Suresh.

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Gouldstone, A., Van Vliet, K. & Suresh, S. Simulation of defect nucleation in a crystal. Nature 411, 656 (2001).

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