Grain boundaries play an important role in dictating the mechanical and physical properties of nanocrystalline (NC) materials because of the increased volume fraction of intercrystalline components as the grain size decreases. In general, grain boundaries have a high energy level and there exists a thermodynamic driving force to reduce the overall area of grain boundaries through grain coarsening, making NC material systems intrinsically unstable. Recent investigations also indicate that mechanical deformation can promote grain growth in NC material even at the cryogenic temperatures. In this chapter, first, the current investigation on the grain boundary structures of NC metallic materials is briefly reviewed and then the state-of-the-art of experimental results on the microstructural stability during deformation processes is discussed. Finally, several key issues for improving the microstructure stability of NC metallic materials and possible future work are discussed.
Part of the book: Study of Grain Boundary Character