Direct imaging of the disconnection climb mediated point defects absorption by a grain boundary
Jiake Wei, Bin Feng, Eita Tochigi, Naoya Shibata, Yuichi Ikuhara
Grain boundaries (GBs) are considered as the effective sinks for point defects, which improve the radiation resistance of materials. However, the fundamental mechanisms of how the GBs absorb and annihilate point defects under irradiation are still not well understood at atomic scale. With the aid of the atomic resolution scanning transmission electron microscope, we experimentally investigate the atomistic mechanism of point defects absorption by a ∑31 GB in α-Al2O3 under high energy electron beam irradiation. It is shown that a disconnection pair is formed, during which all the Al atomic columns are tracked. We demonstrate that the formation of the disconnection pair is proceeded with disappearing of atomic columns in the GB core, which suggests that the GB absorbs vacancies. Such point defect absorption is attributed to the nucleation and climb motion of disconnections. These experimental results provide an atomistic understanding of how GBs improve the radiation resistance of materials.