The amorphous to crystalline phase transformation process is typically known to take place at very high temperatures and facilitated by very high compressive stresses. In this study, we demonstrate crystallization of amorphous ultra-thin platinum films at room temperature under tensile stresses. Using a micro-electro-mechanical device, we applied up to 3% uniaxial tensile strain in 3-5 nm thick focused ion beam deposited platinum films supported by another 3-5 nm thick amorphous carbon film. The experiments were performed in situ inside a transmission electron microscope to acquire the bright field and selected area diffraction patterns. The platinum films were observed to crystallize irreversibly from an amorphous phase to face-centered cubic nanocrystals with average grain size of about 10 nm. Measurement of crystal spacing from electron diffraction patterns confirms large tensile residual stress in the platinum specimens. We propose that addition of the externally applied stress provides the activation energy needed to nucleate crystallization, while subsequent grain growth takes place through enhanced atomic and vacancy diffusion as an energetically favorable route towards stress relaxation at the nanoscale.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering