Nanoscale strengthening mechanisms in metallic thin film systems

R. L. Schoeppner


Nano-scale strengthening mechanisms for thin films were investigated for systems governed by two different strengthening techniques: nano-laminate strengthening and oxide dispersion strengthening. Films were tested under elevated temperature conditions to investigate changes in deformation mechanisms at different operating temperatures, and the structural stability. Both systems exhibit remarkable stability after annealing and thus long-term reliability. Nano-scale metallic multilayers with smaller layer thicknesses show a greater relative resistance to decreasing strength at higher temperature testing conditions than those with larger layer thicknesses. This is seen in both Cu/Ni/Nb multilayers as well as a similar tri-component bi- layer system (Cu-Ni/Nb), which removed the coherent interface from the film. Both nanoindentation and micro-pillar compression tests investigated the strain-hardening ability of these two systems to determine what role the coherent interface plays in this mechanism. Tri-layer films showed a higher strain-hardening ability as the layer thickness decreased and a higher strain- iv hardening exponent than the bi-layer system: verifying the presence of a coherent interface increases the strain-hardening ability of these multilayer systems. Both systems exhibited hardening of the room temperature strength after annealing, suggesting a change in microstructure has occurred, unlike that seen in other multilayer systems.