a1 Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
a2 Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Maxico 87545
a3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
Predicting the dislocation nucleation rate as a function of temperature and stress is crucial for understanding the plastic deformation of nanoscale crystalline materials. However, the limited time scale of molecular dynamics simulations makes it very difficult to predict the dislocation nucleation rate at experimentally relevant conditions. We recently develop an approach to predict the dislocation nucleation rate based on the Becker–Döring theory of nucleation and umbrella sampling simulations. The results reveal very large activation entropies, which originated from the anharmonic effects, that can alter the nucleation rate by many orders of magnitude. Here we discuss the thermodynamics and algorithms underlying these calculations in greater detail. In particular, we prove that the activation Helmholtz free energy equals the activation Gibbs free energy in the thermodynamic limit and explain the large difference in the activation entropies in the constant stress and constant strain ensembles. We also discuss the origin of the large activation entropies for dislocation nucleation, along with previous theoretical estimates of the activation entropy.
(Received May 16 2011)
(Accepted August 05 2011)
This paper has been selected as an Invited Feature Paper.