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First principles calculations of defects in unstable crystals: Austenitic iron

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Original languageEnglish
Pages55-66
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Abstract

First principles calculations have given a new insight into the energies of point defects in many different materials, information which cannot be readily obtained from experiment. Most such calculations are done at zero Kelvin, with the assumption that finite temperature effects on defect energies and barriers are small. In some materials, however, the stable crystal structure of interest is mechanically unstable at OK. In such cases, alternate approaches are needed. Here we present results of first principles calculations of austenitic iron using the VASP code. We determine an appropriate reference state for collinear magnetism to be the antiferromagnetic (001) double-layer (AFM-d) which is both stable and lower in energy than other possible models for the low temperature limit of paramagnetic fcc iron. Another plausible reference state is the antiferromagnetic (001) single layer (AFM-1). We then consider the energetics of dissolving typical alloying impurities (Ni, Cr) in the materials, and their interaction with point defects typical of the irradiated environment. We show that the calculated defect formation energies have fairly high dependence on the reference state chosen: in some cases this is due to instability of the reference state, a problem which does not seem to apply to AFM-d and AFM-1. Furthermore, there is a correlation between local free volume magnetism and energetics. Despite this, a general picture emerge that point defects in austenitic iron have geometries similar to those in simpler, non-magnetic, thermodynamically stable FCC metals. The defect energies are similar to those in BCC iron. The effect of substitutional Ni and Cr on defect properties is weak, rarely more than tenths of eV, so it is unlikely that small amounts of Ni and Cr will have a significant effect on the radiation damage in austenitic iron at high temperatures. © 2011 Materials Research Society.

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