T. Zhu, J. Li, K. J. Van Vliet, S. Ogata, S. Yip and S. Suresh
Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 52, 691–724 (2004).
Nanoscale contact of material surfaces provides an opportunity to explore and better understand the elastic limit and incipient plasticity in crystals. Homogeneous nucleation of a dislocation beneath a nanoindenter is a strain localization event triggered by elastic instability of the perfect crystal at finite strain. The finite element calculation, with a hyperelastic constitutive relation based on an interatomic potential, is employed as an efficient method to characterize such instability. This implementation facilitates the study of dislocation nucleation at length scales that are large compared to atomic dimensions, while remaining faithful to the nonlinear interatomic interactions. An instability criterion based on bifurcation analysis is incorporated into the finite element calculation to predict homogeneous dislocation nucleation. This criterion is superior to that based on the critical resolved shear stress in terms of its accuracy of prediction for both the nucleation site and the slip character of the defect. Finite element calculations of nanoindentation of single crystal copper by a cylindrical indenter and predictions of dislocation nucleation are validated by comparing with direct molecular dynamics simulations governed by the same interatomic potential. Analytic 2D and 3D linear elasticity solutions based on the Stroh formalism are used to benchmark the finite element results. The critical configuration of homogeneous dislocation nucleation under a spherical indenter is quantified with full 3D finite element calculations. The prediction of the nucleation site and slip character is verified by direct molecular dynamics simulations. The critical stress state at the nucleation site obtained from the interatomic potential is in quantitative agreement with ab initio density functional theory calculation.