We have added force and displacement measurement capabilities in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) for in situ quantitative tensile experimentation on nanoscale specimens. Employing the technique, we measured the stress-strain response of several nanoscale free-standing aluminum and gold films subjected to several loading and unloading cycles. We observed low elastic modulus, nonlinear elasticity, lack of work hardening, and macroscopically brittle nature in these metals when their average grain size is 50 nm or less. Direct in situ TEM observation of the absence of dislocations in these films even at high stresses points to a grain-boundary-based mechanism as a dominant contributing factor in nanoscale metal deformation. When grain size is larger, the same metals regain their macroscopic behavior. Addition of quantitative capability makes the TEM a versatile tool for new fundamental investigations on materials and structures at the nanoscale.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Apr 27 2004|
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