Supplementary Information from Hydrogen behaviour at twist {110} grain boundaries in α-Fe

The behaviour of hydrogen at structural defects such as grain boundaries plays a critical role in the phenomenon of hydrogen embrittlement. However, characterization of the energetics and diffusion of hydrogen in the vicinity of such extended defects using conventional ab initio techniques is challenging due to the relatively large system sizes required when dealing with realistic grain boundary geometries. In order to be able to access the required system sizes, as well as high-throughput testing of a large number of configurations, while remaining within a quantum-mechanical framework, an environmental tight-binding model for the iron–hydrogen system has been developed. The resulting model is applied to study the behaviour of hydrogen at a class of low-energy {110}-terminated twist grain boundaries in α-Fe. We find that, for particular Σ values within the coincidence site lattice description, the atomic geometry at the interface plane provides extremely favourable trap sites for H, which also possess high escape barriers for diffusion. By contrast, via simulated tensile testing, weakly trapped hydrogen at the interface plane of the bulk-like Σ3 boundary acts as a ‘glue’ for the boundary, increasing both the energetic barrier and the elongation to rupture.