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Strengthening and plasticity in nanotwinned metals

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MRS Bulletin

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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      Abstract

      Abstract

      Nanotwins require little energy to form in metals, but their impact on strength and ductility is dramatic. New mechanisms of strengthening, strain hardening, ductility, and strain-rate sensitivity have been observed in nanowires, films, and bulk materials containing nanoscale twins as the twin-boundary spacing decreases. These mechanisms can act in concert to produce interface-dominated nanomaterials with extreme tensile strength and plastic deformation without breaking. This article reviews recent theoretical and experimental understanding of the physical mechanisms of plasticity in nanotwin-strengthened metals, with a particular focus on the fundamental roles of coherent, incoherent, and defective twin boundaries in plastic deformation of bulk and small-scale cubic systems, and discusses new experimental methods for controlling these deformation mechanisms in nanotwinned metals and alloys.

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      Most cited references 53

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      Ultrahigh strength and high electrical conductivity in copper.

      Methods used to strengthen metals generally also cause a pronounced decrease in electrical conductivity, so that a tradeoff must be made between conductivity and mechanical strength. We synthesized pure copper samples with a high density of nanoscale growth twins. They showed a tensile strength about 10 times higher than that of conventional coarse-grained copper, while retaining an electrical conductivity comparable to that of pure copper. The ultrahigh strength originates from the effective blockage of dislocation motion by numerous coherent twin boundaries that possess an extremely low electrical resistivity, which is not the case for other types of grain boundaries.
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        Revealing the maximum strength in nanotwinned copper.

        The strength of polycrystalline materials increases with decreasing grain size. Below a critical size, smaller grains might lead to softening, as suggested by atomistic simulations. The strongest size should arise at a transition in deformation mechanism from lattice dislocation activities to grain boundary-related processes. We investigated the maximum strength of nanotwinned copper samples with different twin thicknesses. We found that the strength increases with decreasing twin thickness, reaching a maximum at 15 nanometers, followed by a softening at smaller values that is accompanied by enhanced strain hardening and tensile ductility. The strongest twin thickness originates from a transition in the yielding mechanism from the slip transfer across twin boundaries to the activity of preexisting easy dislocation sources.
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          Strengthening materials by engineering coherent internal boundaries at the nanoscale.

          Strengthening materials traditionally involves the controlled creation of internal defects and boundaries so as to obstruct dislocation motion. Such strategies invariably compromise ductility, the ability of the material to deform, stretch, or change shape permanently without breaking. Here, we outline an approach to optimize strength and ductility by identifying three essential structural characteristics for boundaries: coherency with surrounding matrix, thermal and mechanical stability, and smallest feature size finer than 100 nanometers. We assess current understanding of strengthening and propose a methodology for engineering coherent, nanoscale internal boundaries, specifically those involving nanoscale twin boundaries. Additionally, we discuss perspectives on strengthening and preserving ductility, along with potential applications for improving failure tolerance, electrical conductivity, and resistance to electromigration.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            applab
            MRS Bulletin
            MRS Bull.
            Cambridge University Press (CUP)
            0883-7694
            1938-1425
            April 2016
            April 6 2016
            : 41
            : 04
            : 292-297
            10.1557/mrs.2016.60
            © 2016

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