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Systematic electronic-structure investigation of substitutional impurity diffusion and flux coupling in bcc iron

Abstract : The diffusion properties of a wide range of impurities (transition metals and Al, Si, and P) in ferritic alloys are here investigated by means of a combined ab initio–atomic diffusion theory approach. The flux-coupling mechanisms and the solute-diffusion coefficients are inferred from electronic-structure calculations of solute-defect interactions and microscopic jump frequencies. All properties except the second-nearest-neighbor binding energy are found to have a characteristic bell shape as a function of the d-band filling for the 4d and 5d series, and an M shape for the 3d row because of the out-of-trend behavior of Mn. The solute jump frequencies are governed by compressibility, which makes diffusion of large solutes faster, although this effect is partially compensated for by lower attempt frequencies and larger correlations with the vacancy. Diffusion coefficients are predicted in a wide temperature range, far below the experimentally accessible temperatures. In accordance with experiments, Co is found to be a slow diffuser in iron, and the same behavior is predicted for Re, Os, and Ir impurities. Finally, flux-coupling phenomena depend on the iron jump frequencies next to a solute atom, which are mainly controlled by similar electronic interactions to those determining the binding energies. Vacancy drag and solute enrichment at sinks systematically arise below a solute-dependent temperature threshold, directly correlated with the electronic-level interactions at the equilibrium and the saddle-point states. Early transition metals with repulsive second-nearest-neighbor interactions also diffuse via vacancy drag, although they show a lower temperature threshold than the late metals. This confirms that drag is the most common solute-vacancy coupling mechanism in iron at low temperatures, and this is likely to be confirmed as well for impurity diffusion in other transition metals.
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Luca Messina, Maylise Nastar, Nils Sandberg, Pär Olsson. Systematic electronic-structure investigation of substitutional impurity diffusion and flux coupling in bcc iron. Physical Review B: Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, American Physical Society, 2016, 93, pp.184302. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevB.93.184302⟩. ⟨cea-02382828⟩

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