Transformation induced toughening and flaw tolerance in pure nanocrystalline aluminum

S. Kumar, M. A. Haque, Huajian Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Pure bulk metals do not exhibit solid-solid phase transformation since they deform and fail far below the required stress levels for phase transformation, which exceeds hundreds of GPa. We propose that for certain grain size, thickness and notch geometry, classical deformation modes can be suppressed to induce phase transformation in pure metal films at stresses few orders of magnitude lower than the theoretical values. For the first time, we present in situ transmission electron diffraction evidence of face-centered cubic (FCC) to hexagonal ω phase transformation in 99.99% pure nanocrystalline aluminum at room temperature and only 2.5 GPa of tensile stress. For 60 nm average grain size, the aluminum films did not show any appreciable diffusion-based processes such as grain growth, rotation and sliding. At the same time, the 200 nm thick specimens are thin enough for the dislocations to escape through the surface. With no active dislocation sources, in situ microscopy did not show any dislocation-based deformation either. Facilitated by the absence of dislocation and diffusion based processes, the uniaxial nature of specimen loading results in phase transformation at stresses two orders of magnitude lower than that predicted for aluminum. We also propose that phase transformation can result in a flaw tolerance in the material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of plasticity
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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