Evolution of high-pressure metastable phase Si-XIII during silicon nanoindentation: A molecular dynamics study

Lin Zhang, Jiwang Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Berkovich indenters are widely employed in nanoindentation experiments of single-crystal silicon, in molecular dynamic simulations of silicon nanoindentation, however, spherical indenters are generally employed. To close this gap, in this paper, a series of molecular dynamic simulations are conducted on (0 0 1), (1 0 1), and (1 1 1) silicon surfaces to explore the evolution of high-pressure phases. Several possible silicon phases are tracked by coordination number (CN), radial distribution function (RDF), and angular distribution function (ADF). Results show that the metastable phases and the high-pressure phases present different symmetrical patterns along different crystallographic orientations. A large amount of high-pressure phase Si-XIII, which is seldomly observed in nanoindentation using a spherical indenter, is first discovered under the Berkovich indenter, and the evolution mechanism is characterized by tracking the position transition of labeled silicon atoms. As a transition phase for high-pressure phase Si-II and Si-XIII, bct5 phase is found in the {1 1 1} [1 1 0] slip systems, which is related with slipping flatten lattice structures. Different from the phase transformation criterion for Si-II, the transformation from Si-I to Si-XIII companies with the local elastic deformation of (0 0 1) surface. The atoms in the three neighboring unit cells are compressed into a uniform long-distance ordered crystal structure. Upon indenter extraction and rapid stress releasing, the elastic deformation of the crystal surface resumes incompletely. A part of Si-XIII recovers to pristine Si-I and the rest changes into amorphous phase. The distribution of local hydrostatic pressure and von Mises stress in the phase transformation regions indicates that the concentrated hydrostatic pressure and specific stress induce this high-pressure silicon phase. This research clarifies the evolutionary process of Si-XIII phase generation and enriches fundamental understanding on the mechanisms of silicon phase transformations in nanoindentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110344
JournalComputational Materials Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 15


  • Berkovich indenter
  • Crystalline surface
  • Evolution
  • High-pressure Si-XIII phase
  • Molecular dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computational Mathematics


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