Revealing Extraordinary Intrinsic Tensile Plasticity in Gradient Nano-Grained Copper

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Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1587-1590
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200177

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Nano-grained (NG) metals are believed to be strong but intrinsically brittle: Free-standing NG metals usually exhibit a tensile uniform elongation of a few percent. When a NG copper film is confined by a coarse-grained (CG) copper substrate with a gradient grain-size transition, tensile plasticity can be achieved in the NG film where strain localization is suppressed. The gradient NG film exhibits a 10 times higher yield strength and a tensile plasticity comparable to that of the CG substrate and can sustain a tensile true strain exceeding 100% without cracking. A mechanically driven grain boundary migration process with a substantial concomitant grain growth dominates plastic deformation of the gradient NG structure. The extraordinary intrinsic plasticity of gradient NG structures offers their potential for use as advanced coatings of bulk materials.

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