Microstructural and Morphological Factors Affecting Uncertainty in Small Scale Mechanical Properties

Michael R Maughan, Purdue University


If materials are to be developed from the ground up, the process will be dependent upon accurate and well-defined models of material behavior. These models can be closed-form solutions developed from first principles, simulations, or empirically derived equations, among others. Material behavior at the mesoscale is in general well understood, having had several centuries of study. However, behavior at the micro or nanoscale still requires characterization. Understanding the collective influence of the microstructure on the bulk material, for example with models like the Hall-Petch relation, has advanced our ability to manipulate the material to our advantage. We now have the ability to study not only the structure of the material, but also the material behavior and properties at the nanoscale. Understanding this behavior is critical to developing a framework for interpreting and utilizing these properties in materials design.^ This research aims to improve the fundamental understanding of the mechanical performance of materials and the subsequent variation in measured properties. The literature reports widely varying material properties such as hardness, elastic modulus, and yield point when measured at the nanoscale. Proposed variation mechanisms in these properties include surface preparation, error in measurement, heterogeneous dislocation density and distribution, crystal orientation, surface oxide film fracture, and others. Among other things, this work shows that these sources of variation can be determined and quantified, and that this information can be utilized as a characterization and/or predictive tool.^ The main goals of this work are to 1) continue basic research on sources of variation in the nanoscale properties of materials, specifically hardness and modulus in crystalline and glassy solids, 2) study the abrupt transition from elastic to plastic material behavior known as pop-in and resolve the problem of pseudo-elastic behavior prior to plasticity, and 3) integrate the sources of and propagate the variation into materials simulations, 4) study the influence of dislocation processes on indentation size effects, and 5) apply this learning to difficult to measure or interpret materials applications.^




David F. Bahr, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Materials science

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