Atomic scale modeling of the plasticity of body-centered cubic transition metals

Baptiste Bienvenu, Chu Chun Fu and Emmanuel Clouet

Université Paris-Saclay, CEA, Service de Recherches de Métallurgie Physique, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette

At low temperature, plasticity of body-centered cubic (BCC) transition metals is governed by the glide in compact {110} planes of screw dislocations with a ½<111> Burgers vector, experiencing a high friction with the crystal lattice. The aim of this work is to build laws to predict the plastic flow stress based on atomic scale modeling of the core properties and mobility of these dislocations (using ab initio calculations and molecular dynamics), allowing to link them to macroscopic mechanical properties (yield stress, slip system activity).
In this context, a special care is given to the case of chromium (Cr), the only BCC transition metal having a structure close to antiferromagnetism, a spin-density wave, below ambient temperature. To qualify the impact of magnetism on the plasticity of Cr, ab initio calculations at zero temperature were coupled to Monte Carlo simulations at finite temperature. This allowed to conclude that magnetism has only a marginal influence, except at very low temperature where the ½<111> Burgers vector of these dislocations generates magnetic faults given that it does not respect the magnetic order of Cr.
In the following, a systematic study across all seven BCC transition metals (vanadium, niobium, tantalum, chromium, molybdenum, tungsten and iron) helped develop a yield criterion reproducing the experimental features of the so-called “non-Schmid” effects, characteristic of these metals at low temperature. However, some effects cannot be captured by this criterion, accounting for the motion of isolated dislocations only. This is for instance the case of anomalous slip, observed in all BCC transition metals except iron, and characterized by slip activity of ½<111> dislocations in low-stressed {110} planes. Through in situ observations in a transmission electron microscope performed by Daniel Caillard (CEMES-CNRS, Toulouse), coupled with atomistic simulations, a new mechanism explaining this phenomenon in all BCC metals has been evidenced, based on the high mobility of multi-junctions. Finally, the mobility of dislocations with a <100> Burgers vector, most often observed as junctions between ½<111> dislocations but rarely considered as possible slip systems, is studied using atomistic simulations. It was evidenced that, even if the mobility of <100> screw dislocations is competitive with the conventional ½<111> in {110} planes, <100> dislocations are locked at low temperature along a mixed orientation requiring a very high stress to start moving, thus explaining their low slip activity.

Ladislas Kubin passed away

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of our colleague Ladislas Kubin, which occurred on October 18, 2022.

A graduate of the Ecole Centrale Paris in 1966, Ladislas Kubin carried out his thesis work at the Solid State Physics Laboratory of the University of Orsay. Recruited at the CNRS in 1968, he spent his entire research career there, first at the Electronic Optics Laboratory in Toulouse, then at the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory in Poitiers and finally at the Laboratory for Microstructural Investigations (LEM), a joint ONERA-CNRS research unit, which he joined from its creation in 1988 and where he continued his career until his emeritus in 2008.

Ladislas Kubin was an outstanding physicist and has profoundly marked the field of plasticity physics through experimental and theoretical research dealing with the individual and collective behavior of dislocations in order to better understand the deformation mechanisms of crystalline metals and alloys. On the experimental level, in the first part of his career, he endeavored to develop means of in situ study of the individual behavior of dislocations by transmission electron microscopy. This work then led him to develop precursor models for the prediction of dynamic aging phenomena in alloys such as the Portevin-Le Chatelier effect, then at the turn of the 1990s to initiate an original approach to mesoscopic simulation of the mechanisms of plastic deformation of metals. He was thus one of the founders of the French school of dislocation dynamics and one of the first to establish the link between their behavior and the plastic response of metallic materials.

Internationally recognized specialist, Ladislas Kubin was editor for the journal Acta Materialia and the author of the book “Dislocations, mesoscale simulations and plastic flow”. He received bronze and silver medals from the CNRS and the Gay-Lussac Humboldt prize.

Ladislas has trained many doctoral and post-doctoral students and interacted with many researchers in France and abroad. His knowledge in the areas of modeling and experiments was extensive and sought after.

A great physicist and valued colleague has passed away. His memory and his teaching remain.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday October 25, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. at the Saint Charles church in Biarritz (France).

Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones to whom we extend our sincere condolences.


Data-driven models of atomic simulations in discrete and continuous state spaces

Thomas Swinburne
CINaM, Marseille

Building models for the plasticity, thermodynamics and kinetics of metals is challenging as subtle aspects of atomic cohesion must be faithfully reproduced, and predictions often require averaging over large, complex configuration ensembles. I will discuss how the energy landscapes of atomic systems can be rapidly explored at scale and “coarse-grained” when the dynamics are thermally activated thus thus scale separated[1,2] and how data-driven techniques, typically used to regress energies for modern cohesive models, can be used to capture a much wider range of properties such as defect entropics[3] or dislocation properties. When the dynamics do not have a clear timescale separation, coarse graining is much more challenging. I will discuss how a data-driven approach can provide a solution, producing efficient surrogate models which can predict the evolution of nanoparticle ensembles and the yielding of complex microstructures, offering new perspectives for multiscale modelling approaches[4].

[1]  TD Swinburne and D Perez, NPJ Comp. Mat 2020, MSMSE 2022
[2]  TD Swinburne and DJ Wales JCTC 2020, 2022
[3]  C Lapointe et al. PRMat 2020
[4]  TD Swinburne, In Prep.

Optical properties of black phosphorus: from bulk crystal to atomic layers


Black phosphorus is a small gap semiconductor (about 0.3 eV) that has recently joined the family of two-dimensional materials. Due to its modulable band gap from mid-infrared to visible depending on the thickness, its strong anisotropy in the atomic plane as well as the high mobility of charge carriers it is promised to a high application potential in the field of optoelectronics. The objective of this thesis was to study the optical properties of the black phosphorus crystal and its atomic layers.

After a description of the different instrumental developments realized during this thesis, the methods of
fabrication of the samples are discussed. Two points have to be mastered: The elaboration of thin layers and their protection from environmental conditions to avoid their oxidation. In a first part, several methods known as “Top-Down”(mechanical exfoliation, gold assisted exfoliation, ion etching) are compared on the basis of the quality, the size, the thickness of the obtained samples as well as the ease of the operating mode execution. In a second part, two methods of thin film protection are presented: alumina passivation (by ALD or aluminum evaporation) and encapsulation of BP flakes into hBN flakes (hBN / BP / hBN heterostructures).

The strong anisotropy of black phosphorus makes the identification of the orientation of the crystallographic axes a key point in the study of the material. For this purpose, a procedure has been proposed using polarized Raman spectroscopy. It has been confronted and validated by different experimental means (TEM observations, EBSD) and theoretical means (modeling of the Raman intensity in thin films). The vibrational properties have also been studied as a function of the number of atomic layers. Several effects have been noticed at high (> 100 cm-1) and low (< 100 cm-1) frequencies and are attributed to dimensionality reduction and resonance phenomena. Thanks to the peculiar excitation conditions used in this study, a large number of modes related to inter-plane vibrations are for the first time identified and have been shown to be accurate indicators of crystallite thickness. The photoluminescence of the bulk crystal is for the first time studied at room and cryogenic temperatures.

Several band-edge emission components have been identified as excitonic, including a fine line due to the free exciton. The analysis of their behavior as a function of temperature as well as a calculation of the binding energy of the free exciton taking into account the anisotropy of the medium have made it possible to establish a new reference value for the black phosphorus gap at 0.287 eV at 2 K. The photoluminescence study of the exfoliated crystals revealed the disappearance of the fine line of luminescence in favor of a wide band. This change is attributed to the density of defects introduced by the mechanical exfoliation as evidenced by a broadening of Raman bands. The photoluminescence band was followed as a function of the thickness of the exfoliated layers down to 8 atomic layers. Below a threshold thickness evaluated at 25 nm, a shift of the band towards high energies is highlighted, and is very well described by a quantum confinement model. No significant difference is observed between the alumina passivated and hBN encapsulated samples, which indicates that the dielectric effects are not predominant in the thickness range studied.

Phd Candidate:
Etienne Carré

Christophe TESTELIN – Directeur de recherche, CNRS, Sorbonne Université – Rapporteur
Laëticia MARTY – Chargée de recherche, CNRS,Université Grenoble Alpes – Rapporteur
Bruno MASENELLI – Professeur des universités, INSA Lyon – Examinateur
Aurélie PIERRET – Ingénieure de recherche, CNRS, École Normale Supérieure Paris – Examinatrice
Pierre SENEOR – Professeur des universités, CNRS, Université Paris Saclay – Examinateur
Annick LOISEAU – Directrice de recherche, ONERA, Sorbonne Université – Directrice de thèse
Julien BARJON – Professeur des universités, UVSQ – Directeur de thèse
Ingrid STENGER – Maîtresse de conférences, UVSQ – Encadrante


Thursday 23th June 2022, 14h30
Salle Contensou, ONERA, 29 Avenue de la Division Leclerc,92320, Chatillôn

Modelling of the propagation of a short crack in ductile material coupling phase-field method and dislocation dynamics


The propagation of short cracks in FCC metals is strongly influenced by microstructures, in particular associated with the linear defects of the crystals, i.e. dislocations.

In this work, a new coupling between two methods at the mesoscale is proposed to investigate the interaction of moving cracks with three-dimensional dislocation microstructures. First, crack propagation is predicted by a phase field model. In this approach, cracks are described by some continuous damage field that evolves so as to minimize the total free energy, including stored elastic energy and surface energy associated with the crack. Second, dislocation microstructures are handled by a Dislocation Dynamics (DD) model that describes plastic deformation by the movement of dislocations under external loading.

To couple both models, the DCM (Discrete-Continuous Model) approach is used, where dislocations are described by continuous fields (eigenstrain or Nye tensor) in an elastic solver. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) based solvers are used for their computational efficiency. Particular discretization schemes have been adopted to minimize the smoothing of dislocation cores, usually performed in MDC approaches. The different schemes are carefully analyzed with respect to the quality of the predicted fields. In addition, the resulting model is implemented using efficient parallelization solutions.

Thanks to this new coupling, we have been able to study the elastic shielding on crack propagation according to the nature of the slip systems and the dislocations density. We have also been able to investigate phenomena and ingredients rarely accounted for, such as dislocation cross slips close to the crack front or the influence of the number of sources. This mesoscale method constitutes a breakthrough for the thorough analysis of physical mechanisms controlling the early stages of fracture in metallic materials.

Keywords : Crack, Plasticity, Multiphysics modelling, Dislocation Dynamics, Phase Field

Phd Candidate:
Luis Eon

Stéphane Berbenni – Directeur de Recherche CNRS, LEM3, Metz – Rapporteur
Samuel Forest –  Directeur de Recherche CNRS, CDM, Evry  – Rapporteur
Véronique Doquet – Directrice de Recherche CNRS, LMS, Palaiseau  – Examinatrice
Lionel Gélébart – Ingénieur-chercheur HdR,  CEA/DEN, Gif-sur-Yvette – Examinateur
Rénald Brenner – Directeur de Recherche CNRS, D’Alembert, Paris – Examinateur
Yoann Guilhem – Maître de conférences, LMPS, Gif-sur-Yvette – Examinateur
Riccardo Gatti – Chargé de Recherche CNRS, LEM, Châtillon – Encadrant de thèse
Benoît Appolaire – Professeur des Universités, IJL, Nancy – Directeur de thèse


Tuesday 14th June 2022, 10h00
Salle Contensou, ONERA, 29 Avenue de la Division Leclerc,92320, Chatillôn

Dislocation-free plasticity in small-grained metals

Marc Legros, Romain Gauthier, Armin Rajabzadeh, Frédéric Mompiou et Nicolas Combe

CEMES-CNRS, Toulouse

Most crystalline materials around us (metals, alloys, ceramics) are polycrystalline, made of “grains”, separated by “grain boundaries”. These boundaries between domains of different orientation determine certain physical properties and especially their mechanical behavior. For example, we can make a ceramic malleable or on the contrary harden a metal by reducing the size of its crystallites through the famous Hall-Petch law [1,2], established in a phenomenological way for steels 70 years ago. Physically, this relationship can be explained by the obstacle effect that grain boundaries have on dislocations, which are the main vectors of plastic deformation. When grains become nanometric, the plasticity threshold saturates or decreases, which is generally attributed to plastic processes carried by the grain boundaries themselves, such as rotation, intergranular slip and/or migration/shear coupling. These mechanisms are mostly observed in small-grained metals, but rarely quantified experimentally, except in experiments on bicrystals [3]. The Cahn & Mishin (C&M) model [4,5], which popularized the migration-shear coupling, predicts that the coupling factor increases with the disorientation of the joint. In other words, when a joint migrates, it produces more shear the higher its disorientation. The rare measurements made on polycrystals, experimentally more complex to realize, do not seem to attest this trend. And metallic nanocrystals are not known for their deformability.

To be sure, we have been studying the deformation mechanisms related to grain boundary migration for the last ten years, both by in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), using atomic simulations by molecular dynamics and more recently by atomic force microscopy (AFM), all coupled with crystal orientation mapping techniques. It is thus possible to follow the motion of the identified boundaries and even to statistically quantify the shear produced in ultra-fine-grained aluminum. In the absence of dislocation, this migration-shear coupling is the main driver of plastic deformation [6]. However, this coupling is much weaker than that predicted by the C&M model, which explains the low yield of grain boundary plasticity mechanisms, and thus the low ductility of metallic nanocrystals.

[1]   EO Hall. The deformation and ageing of mild steel: III Discussion of results. Proceedings of the Physical Society Section B 1951;64:747–53.
[2]   NJ Petch. The cleavage strength of polycrystals: Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, v. 174. 1953
[3]   T Gorkaya, DA Molodov, G Gottstein. Stress-driven migration of symmetrical 〈100〉 tilt grain boundaries in Al bicrystals. Acta Materialia 2009;57:5396–405.
[4]   JW Cahn, JE Taylor. A unified approach to motion of grain boundaries, relative tangential translation along grain boundaries, and grain rotation. Acta Materialia 2004;52:4887–98.
[5]   JW Cahn, Y Mishin, A Suzuki. Coupling grain boundary motion to shear deformation. Acta Materialia 2006;54:4953–75.
[6]   R Gautier, A Rajabzadeh, M Larranaga, N Combe, F Mompiou, M Legros. Shear-coupled migration of grain boundaries: the key missing link in the mechanical behavior of small-grained metals. Comptes Rendus Physique 2021;22:1–16.

Combining X-ray Tomography and Diffraction modalities to study in situ the mechanics of polycrystalline materials

Clément Ribart, Henry Proudhon

Centre des Matériaux, MINES Paristech, CNRS UMR 7633

Diffraction Contrast Tomography remains the fastest 3D grain mapping characterization method and allows further characterization of specific crystallographic locations. Coupled to in situ mechanical testing, something we have developed for a few years at CDM, it provides a unique way to probe deformation and fracture mechanisms of structural materials. Correlative experiments at higher resolution can now be performed to achieve “zoom-in” observation in selected grains. We will review several technique that can be used at the European synchrotron, such as X-ray topo-tomography, scanning 3DXRD or Dark Field X-ray Microscopy. Example to characterize plastic strain localization in metals will be presented. As the method becomes more and more automated, it allows both quantitative and statistical measurements in the bulk of the microstructure. Finally, coupling experiments with crystal plasticity finite element computations at the grain scale will be discussed as a key to unlock microstructure-deformation mechanisms.

Contact to attend the conference :

Thursday 31st Mars 2022 at 14h00

Contensou conference room, ONERA Châtillon

Scientific day in honour of François Ducastelle


François Ducastelle sadly passed away last summer. An outstanding physicist, François had a profound impact on the many fields he covered: the electronic structure of metals and their alloys, the statistical physics of order-disorder and phase transitions, growth modes and spectroscopic properties of low-dimensional materials. 

In his honour, the LEM organizes a scientific day which will be held on 11 July in the heart of Paris at the Ecole des Mines de Paris where he graduated and has been teaching Solid State Physics for many years. The aim of this day will be to evoke François’ career and his contribution to Condensed Matter Physics over nearly 55 years of research. Memories will be recalled through scientific presentations given by researchers specialised in the different fields François left his mark on, and testimonies by young and not-so-young researchers with whom he has been working throughout his long career, and still was.

The day will thus be a balance between scientific and memorial aspects combining past and present science, testimonies, and companionship throughout his long career as a researcher.

List of invited speakers:

You can find the program of the day on the following link and the flyer on the following one.

You can find the program of the day, the flyer and the list of participants. To join the Ecole des Mines de Paris, you will find all the information here.

For those who will not be able to attend, but who would like to participate virtually, a zoom connection will be possible via the following link:

ID de réunion : 954 4263 8028
Code secret : pZ2LiT

The organising committee: Hakim Amara (LEM), Cyrille Barreteau (CEA), Alphonse Finel (LEM), Annick Loiseau (LEM) et Guy Tréglia (CINaM).

If you would like to participate, please contact Cyrille Barreteau indicating name/first name/laboratory and whether or not you would like to attend the buffet lunch.

For all practical questions, please contact Catherine Deutsch.

GDR-IRN HOWDI annual meeting

We are glad to announce that the abstract submission is now open for the first HOWDI meeting.

The HOWDI (van der Waals heterostructures of low dimensionality) research group gathers researchers from France and abroad whose investigations focus on the physical properties emerging in van der Waals assemblies. The objective of the GDR-IRN HOWDI is to initiate, sustain and cross-link research activity on graphene, other 2D materials and nanotubes. All information about the network can be found at:

The meeting will be held in Dourdan (Paris area, France) on May 9-13 2022. The participants will be hosted in “Le Domaine du Normont” holiday village for the entire duration of the event. Invited talks, tutorials, contributing talks, poster sessions, and social events are scheduled. All information about the meeting can be found at

Local contact: Lorenzo Sponza

Laboratory days

From 12 to 15 October 2021,  LEM staff and some guest researchers presented their research activities during the “laboratory days”.  In a period where smart working is becoming increasingly important, the main objectives of this seminar were to strengthen scientific interactions between lab members and the cohesion of the laboratory. Alternating scientific and technical presentations, round tables and moments of conviviality, the 2021 edition allowed the staff of the laboratory to strengthen their links in a sunny place and in a good mood!

2018, web site created by HA & RG.