We present a systematic study to elucidate the role of triple junctions (TJs) and their constituent grain boundaries on the structural stability of nanocrystalline materials. Using atomistic simulations along with the nudge elastic band calculations, we explored the atomic structural and thermodynamic properties of TJs in three different fcc materials. We found that the magnitude of excess energy at a TJ was directly related to the atomic density of the metal. Further, the vacancy binding and migration energetics in the vicinity of the TJ were examined as they play a crucial role in the structural stability of NC materials. The resolved line tension which takes into account the stress buildup at the TJ was found to be a good measure in predicting the vacancy binding tendency near the TJ. The activation energy for vacancy migration along the TJ was directly correlated with the measured excess energy. Finally, we show that the resistance for vacancy diffusion increased for TJs with larger excess stored energy and the defect mobility at some TJs is slower than their constituent GBs. Hence, our results have general implications on the diffusional process in NC materials and provide new insight into stabilizing NC materials with tailored TJs.
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