Polycrystalline Materials: Greater Than the Sum of Their Crystals

Polycrystalline materials are pervasive in nature and engineering, and have long been studied as a collection of individual crystalline grains. Mathematical tools to represent the statistics of many individual grains and to more intuitively visualize the grain structure were developed long ago, and have greatly facilitated advances in understanding and designing these materials. However, it is not the crystals themselves, but the boundaries between crystals, that frequently dominate the properties of polycrystalline materials. Unfortunately, the population of these boundaries is more difficult to measure, visualize, and represent statistically. This talk will highlight our recent work towards quantitatively understanding the population of grain boundaries in materials. Beginning from an understanding of the topology of the group space for grain misorientations, we develop new methods of mapping and visualizing boundary character, representing their statistics with continuous functions, and understanding the rules that govern their connectivity as a network.

Christopher Schuh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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