Nanoindentation has become ubiquitous for the measurement of mechanical properties at ever-decreasing scales of interest, including some studies that have explored the atomic-level origins of plasticity in perfect crystals. With substantial guidance from atomistic simulations, the onset of plasticity during nanoindentation is now widely believed to be associated with homogeneous dislocation nucleation. However, to date there has been no compelling quantitative experimental support for the atomic-scale mechanisms predicted by atomistic simulations. Our purpose here is to significantly advance the quantitative potential of nanoindentation experiments for the study of dislocation nucleation. This is accomplished through the development and application of high-temperature nanoindentation testing, and the introduction of statistical methods to quantitatively evaluate data. The combined use of these techniques suggests an unexpected picture of incipient plasticity that involves heterogeneous nucleation sites, and which has not been anticipated by atomistic simulations.
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This work was supported by the US Office of Naval Research; the views expressed herein are not endorsed by the sponsor. The collaborative support of Hysitron and the collaborative involvement of A. Hodge (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) are gratefully acknowledged.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Schuh, C., Mason, J. & Lund, A. Quantitative insight into dislocation nucleation from high-temperature nanoindentation experiments. Nature Mater 4, 617–621 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1429
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