NANOSCALE STRENGTHENING MECHANISMS IN METALLIC THIN FILM SYSTEMS
Schoeppner, Rachel Lynn
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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-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. Oxide dispersion strengthened Au films showed a marked increase in hardness and wear resistance with the addition of ZnO particles. The threshold for stress-induced grain-refinement as opposed to grain growth is seen at concentrations of at least 0.5 vol%. These systems exhibited stable microstructures during thermal cycling in films containing at least 1.0%ZnO. Nanoindentation experiments show the drop in hardness following annealing is almost completely attributed to the resulting grain growth. Four-point probe resistivity measurements on annealed films showed a significant drop in resistivity for the higher concentration ZnO films, which is proposed to be the result of a change in the particle-matrix interface structure. A model connecting the hardness and resistivity as a function of ZnO concentration has been developed based on the assumption that the impact of nm-scale ZnO precipitates on the mechanical and electrical behavior of Au films is likely dominated by a transition from semi-coherent to incoherent interfaces.