Impact of extreme electrical fields on charge density distributions in Al3Sc alloy
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In this study, the authors investigated how extreme electrical fields affect charge distribution of metallic surfaces and bond character at the moment of evaporation. The surface structure and neighborhood chemistry were also studied as a function of various field evaporation pathways. Density functional theory (DFT) was used to model the surface bonding and charge distribution and then correlate the DFT results with experimental results by comparing the calculated evaporation fields with atom probe tomography measurements. The evaporation fields of different surface neighborhood chemistries in L1(2)-Al3Sc were calculated, with the Sc atoms occupying the corners of a cubic unit cell and the Al atoms occupying the face centers. Al-Al surface atoms are found via DFT to be more likely to evaporate as dimers because of the Al-Al shared charge density. In contrast, Al-Sc evaporates as single ions due to the increased density localized around the Sc atom. This difference in evaporation behavior correlates with the resistance to degradation under extreme fields. This work allows better interpretation of the atom probe data by clarifying the relationship between different evaporation events and the role of surface and subsurface chemistry. (C) 2016 Author(s).