Electrophobic Interaction Induced Impurity Clustering in Metals

Hong-Bo Zhou, Jin-Long Wang, W. Jiang, Guang-Hong Lu, Feng Liu, Jeffery Aguiar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus Citations


We introduce the concept of electrophobic interaction, analogous to hydrophobic interaction, for describing the behavior of impurity atoms in a metal, a 'solvent of electrons'. We demonstrate that there exists a form of electrophobic interaction between impurities with closed electron shell structure, which governs their dissolution behavior in a metal. Using He, Be and Ar as examples, we predict by first-principles calculations that the electrophobic interaction drives He, Be or Ar to form a close-packed cluster with a clustering energy that follows a universal power-law scaling with the number of atoms (N) dissolved in a free electron gas, as well as W or Al lattice, as Ec is proportional to (N2/3-N). This new concept unifies the explanation for a series of experimental observations of close-packed inert-gas bubble formation in metals, and significantly advances our fundamental understanding and capacity to predict the solute behavior of impurities in metals, a useful contribution to be considered in future material design of metals for nuclear, metallurgical, and energy applications.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-67034


  • electrophobic interaction
  • impurity clustering
  • metals


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