By way of introducing heterogeneous interfaces, the stabilization of crystallographic phases is critical to a viable strategy for developing materials with novel characteristics, such as occurrence of new structure phase, anomalous enhancement in magnetic moment, enhancement of efficiency as nanoportals. Because of the different lattice structures at the interface, heterogeneous interfaces serve as a platform for controlling pseudomorphic growth, nanostructure evolution and formation of strained clusters. However, our knowledge related to the strain accumulation phenomenon in ultrathin Fe layers on face-centered cubic (fcc) substrates remains limited. For Fe deposited on Ir(111), here we found the existence of strain accumulation at the interface and demonstrate a strain driven phase transition in which fcc-Fe is transformed to a bcc phase. By substituting the bulk modulus and the shear modulus and the experimental results of lattice parameters in cubic geometry, we obtain the strain energy density for different Fe thicknesses. A limited distortion mechanism is proposed for correlating the increasing interfacial strain energy, the surface energy, and a critical thickness. The calculation shows that the strained layers undergo a phase transition to the bulk structure above the critical thickness. The results are well consistent with experimental measurements. The strain driven phase transition and mechanism presented herein provide a fundamental understanding of strain accumulation at the bcc/fcc interface.
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