Yielding mechanics on the nanometer scale: What makes it different from the macroscopic world?

        It has been known for some time that the resistance to plastic deformation increases as dimensions approach the submicrometer scale. The most dramatic effect has been discovered most recently in nanometer-sized Au contacts whose ultimate strengths are comparable to those of the hardest metallic materials known. We show in this Letter that topological material hardening is a general phenomenon originating from the one-dimensional nature of dislocations. Consequently, the corresponding mechanical stresses scale inversely with dimension. At a length scale of typically 10 nm the stresses become comparable to the intrinsic lattice strength. Below this crossover point, dislocations are suppressed completely, and plastic deformation proceeds by a collective slip of entire atomic planes and ultimately by order-disorder transitions. Topological hardening has far-reaching implications, particularly in the context of nanostructured

By: U. Duerig and A. Stalder

Published in: RZ2873 in 1996


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