Grain boundaries; Grain boundary energy; Polycrystals; Surface energy
This work was supported by the MRSEC program of the National Science Foundation under Award Number DMR-0079996. Recent advances both in experimental instrumentation and computing power have made it possible to interrogate the distribution of internal interfaces in polycrystals and the three dimensional structure of the grain boundary network with an unprecedented level of detail. The purpose of this paper is to review techniques that can be used to study the mesoscopic crystallographic structure of grain boundary networks and to summarize current findings. Recent studies have shown that grain surfaces within dense polycrystals favor the same low energy planes that are found on equilibrium crystal shapes and growth forms of crystals in contact with another phase. In the materials for which comprehensive data exists, the distribution of grain boundaries is inversely correlated to the sum of the energies of the surfaces of the grains on either side of the boundary.