Thermal expansion of materials is of fundamental practical relevance and arises from an interplay of several material properties. For nanocrystalline materials, accurate measurements of thermal expansion based on high-precision reference dilatometry allow inferring phenomena taking place at internal interfaces such as vacancy annihilation at grain boundaries. Here we report on measurements obtained for a severely deformed 316L austenitic steel, showing an anomaly in difference dilatometry curves which we attribute to the exceptionally high density of stacking faults. On the basis of ab intio simulations we report evidence that the peculiar magnetic state of the 316L austenitic steel causes stacking faults to expand more than the matrix. So far, the effect has only been observed for this particular austenitic steel but we expect that other magnetic materials could exhibit an even more pronounced anomaly.
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