Defects and deformation in nanostructured metals



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A better understanding of how the nanoscale environment affects the mechanical properties of materials, in particular metallic nanoparticles and nanocrystalline metals is vital to the development of next generation materials. Of special interest is obtaining a fundamental understanding of the inverse Hall-Petch Effect in nanocrystalline metals, and nanoindentation in individual nanoparticles. Understanding these subjects is critical to understanding how the mechanical properties of materials are fundamentally affected by nanoscale dimensions. These topics have been addressed by a combination of theoretical modeling and in-situ nanoindentation transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Specifically, the study of the inverse Hall-Petch effect in nanocrystalline metals will be investigated by a thorough review of the literature followed by a proposed novel theoretical model that better explains the experimentally observed behavior of nanocrystalline metals. On the other hand, the nanoindentation of individual nanoparticles is a very new research topic that has yet to aggregate a large body of experimental data. In this context, in-situ TEM nanoindentation experiments on silver nanoparticles will be first performed to determine the mechanisms of deformation in these nanostructures. A theoretical explanation for the observed deformation mechanisms will be then developed and its implications will be discussed. In addition to nanoparticles, this study will also provide unique and valuable insight into the deformation mechanisms of nanopillars, a growing area of research despite much controversy and speculation about their actual mechanisms of deformation. After studying the novel behavior of both nanocrystalline metals and nanoparticles, useful applications of both classes of materials will be explored. The discussion of applications will focus on utilizing the interesting behaviors explored in the dissertation. Of particular interest will be applications of nanoparticles and nanocrystalline materials to coatings, radiation resistance and super-plastic materials.