A phase-field model for hydride formation in polycrystalline metals: Application to δ-hydride in zirconium alloys

Tae Wook Heo, Kimberly B. Colas, Arthur T. Motta, Long Qing Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We report a phase-field model for simulating metal hydride formation involving large volume expansion in single- and polycrystals. As an example, we consider δ-hydride formation in α-zirconium (Zr), which involves both displacive crystallographic structural change and hydrogen diffusion process. Thermodynamic Gibbs energy functions are extracted from the available thermodynamic database based on the sublattice model for the interstitial solid solutions. Solute-grain boundary interactions and inhomogeneous elasticity of polycrystals are taken into consideration within the context of diffuse-interface description. The stress-free transformation strains of multiple variants for hcp-Zr (α) to fcc-hydride (δ) transformation are derived based on the well-established orientation relationship between the α and δ phases as well as the corresponding temperature-dependent lattice parameters. In particular, to account for the large volume expansion, we introduced the mixed interfacial coherency concept between those phases—basal planes are coherent and prismatic planes are semi-coherent in computing the strain energy contribution to the thermodynamics. We analyzed the morphological characteristics of hydrides involving multiple structural variants and their interactions with grain boundaries. Moreover, our simulation study allows for the exploration of the possible hydride re-orientation mechanisms when precipitating under applied tensile load, taking into account the variation in the interfacial coherency between hydrides and matrix, their elastic interactions with the applied stress, as well as their morphology-dependent interactions with grain boundaries. The phase-field model presented here is generally applicable to hydride formation in any binary metal–hydrogen systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-277
Number of pages16
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Dec 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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