Ultrahigh Strength and High Electrical Conductivity in Copper

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Science  16 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5669, pp. 422-426
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092905

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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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