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Alloying effects on the microstructure and mechanical properties of nanocrystalline Cu-based alloyed thin films: Miscible Cu-Ti vs immiscible Cu-Mo

Tuning the microstructure to optimize the mechanical performance of nanocrystalline Cu thin films via the alloying strategy is quite important for their application in microdevices. In this work, we prepared nanocrystalline miscible Cu-Ti and immiscible Cu-Mo alloyed thin films to investigate alloying effects on the microstructure and mechanical properties of Cu thin films in terms of mixing enthalpies. It is found that the dopants of both Ti and Mo can notably refine the grains, and in particular promote the formation of nanotwins below a critical content of solute, beyond which the formation of nanotwins is notably suppressed. The nonmonotonic solute concentration-dependent twinning behavior observed in Cu-Ti and Cu-Mo alloyed thin films is explained by the coupling effects between grain size and grain boundary segregated dopants that affects the stimulated slip process of partials. The increased hardness of both Cu-Ti and Cu-Mo systems with increasing the solute contents are quantitatively explained by combining several strengthening mechanisms, including solid solution strengthening, grain/twin boundary (GB/TB) strengthening, solute segregation-induced strengthening. It unexpectedly appears that with increasing the solute contents, the Cu-Ti system exhibits monotonically reduced positive strain rate sensitivity (SRS, m), whereas the Cu-Mo system manifests almost constant negative SRS. The fundamental difference in SRS m between Cu-Ti and Cu-Mo is rationalized in terms of the interactions between solute atomic clusters and dislocations based on the cross-core diffusion mechanism.

» Author: J.Y. Zhang, J.T. Zhao, X.G. Li, Y.Q. Wang, K. Wu, G. Liu, J. Sun

» Reference: Acta Materialia, Volume 143

» Publication Date: 15/01/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n [310187].