Interstitial segregation has the potential to mitigate liquid metal embrittlement in iron

A. Ahmadian, Daniel Scheiber, Xuyang Zhou, Baptiste Gault, Lorenz Romaner, Reza D. Kamachali, Werner Ecker, Gerhard Dehm, C. Liebscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The embrittlement of metallic alloys by liquid metals leads to catastrophic material failure and severely impacts their structural integrity. The weakening of grain boundaries (GBs) by the ingress of liquid metal and preceding segregation in the solid are thought to promote early fracture. However, the potential of balancing between the segregation of cohesion-enhancing interstitial solutes and embrittling elements inducing GB de-cohesion is not understood. Here, the mechanisms of how boron segregation mitigates the detrimental effects of the prime embrittler, zinc, in a Σ5 [001] tilt GB in α-Fe (4 at.% Al) is unveiled. Zinc forms nanoscale segregation patterns inducing structurally and compositionally complex GB states. Ab initio simulations reveal that boron hinders zinc segregation and compensates for the zinc-induced loss in GB cohesion. The work sheds new light on how interstitial solutes intimately modify GBs, thereby opening pathways to use them as dopants for preventing disastrous material failure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2211796
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced materials
Issue number28
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2023

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