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Extreme Response in Tension and Compression of Tantalum


This research on a model bcc metal, tantalum, has three components: the study of tensile failure; defects generated under a nanoindenter; and dislocation velocities in an extreme regime generated by pulsed lasers.

The processes of dynamic failure by spalling were established in nano, poly, and mono crystalline tantalum in recovery experiments following laser compression and release. The process of spall was characterized by different techniques: optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, microcomputerized tomography and electron backscatter diffraction. Additionally, the pull back signal was measured by VISAR and the pressure decay was compared with HYADES simulations. There are clear differences in the microscopic fracture mechanisms, dictated by the grain sizes. In the nano and poly crystals, spalling occurred by ductile fracture favoring grain boundaries. In the monocrystals, grain boundaries are absent, and the process was of ductile failure by void initiation, growth and coalescence. The spall strength of single crystalline tantalum was higher than the poly and nano crystals. It was experimentally confirmed that spall strength in tantalum increases with strain rate.

In order to generate dislocations close to the surface, single crystalline tantalum with orientations (100), (110) and (111) was nanoindented with a Berkovich tip. Atomic force microscopy showed pile-ups of dislocations around the perimeter of the nanoindentations. Sections of nanoindentations were focused ion beam cut into transmission electron microscope foils. The mechanisms of deformation under a nanoindentation in tantalum were identified and quantified. Molecular dynamics simulations were conducted and the simulated plastic deformation proceeds by the formation of nanotwins, which rapidly evolve into shear dislocation loops. Dislocation densities under the indenter were estimated experimentally (~1.2 x 10^15 m-2), by MD (~7 x10^15 m-2) and through an analytical calculation (2.6–19 x10^15 m-2). Considering the assumptions and simplifications, this agreement is considered satisfactory. These indented crystals were subjected to shock compression and the results are being analyzed with the objective of establishing the velocities of dislocations.

A novel technique to establish dislocation velocities is being tested. It consists of subjecting tantalum containing a matrix of nanoindentations to shock compression for post shock characterization enabling the determination of mean dislocation displacements.

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