Solute-vacancy binding in aluminum

C. Wolverton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

327 Scopus citations


Previous efforts to understand solute-vacancy binding in aluminum alloys have been hampered by a scarcity of reliable, quantitative experimental measurements. Here, we report a large database of solute-vacancy binding energies determined from first-principles density functional calculations. The calculated binding energies agree well with accurate measurements where available, and provide an accurate predictor of solute-vacancy binding in other systems. We find: (i) some common solutes in commercial Al alloys (e.g., Cu and Mg) possess either very weak (Cu), or even repulsive (Mg), binding energies. Hence, we assert that some previously reported large binding energies for these solutes are erroneous. (ii) Large binding energies are found for Sn, Cd and In, confirming the proposed mechanism for the reduced natural aging in Al-Cu alloys containing microalloying additions of these solutes. (iii) In addition, we predict that similar reduction in natural aging should occur with additions of Si, Ge and Au. (iv) Even larger binding energies are found for other solutes (e.g., Pb, Bi, Sr, Ba), but these solutes possess essentially no solubility in Al. (v) We have explored the physical effects controlling solute-vacancy binding in Al. We find that there is a strong correlation between binding energy and solute size, with larger solute atoms possessing a stronger binding with vacancies. (vi) Most transition-metal 3d solutes do not bind strongly with vacancies, and some are even energetically strongly repelled from vacancies, particularly for the early 3d solutes, Ti and V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5867-5872
Number of pages6
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Aluminum alloys
  • First-principles calculations
  • Solute-vacancy binding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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