Tailoring the mechanical properties of sputter deposited nanotwinned nickel-molybdenum-tungsten films

Gi Dong Sim, Jessica A. Krogstad, Kelvin Y. Xie, Suman Dasgupta, Gianna M. Valentino, Timothy P. Weihs, Kevin J. Hemker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advanced metallic alloys are attractive in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) applications that require high density, electrical and thermal conductivity, strength, and dimensional stability. Here we report the mechanical behavior of direct current (DC) magnetron sputter deposited Nickel (Ni)-Molybdenum (Mo)-Tungsten (W) films annealed at various temperatures. The films deposit as single-phase nanotwinned solid solutions and possess ultra-high tensile strengths of approximately 3 GPa, but negligible ductility. Subsequent heat treatments resulted in grain growth and nucleation of Mo-rich precipitates. While films annealed at 600 °C or 800 °C for 1 h still showed brittle behavior, films annealed at 1,000 °C for 1 h were found to exhibit strength greater than 1.2 GPa and near 10% tensile ductility. In addition to the excellent mechanical properties, alloy films further exhibit remarkably improved dimensional stability – a lower coefficient of thermal expansion and greater microstructural stability. An excellent balance between mechanical properties and dimensional stability make sputter deposited Ni-Mo-W alloys promising structural materials for MEMS applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-225
Number of pages10
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Brittle-to-ductile transition
  • Metal MEMS
  • Nanotwins
  • Nickel alloy
  • Sputter deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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