Size-dependent mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms in Cu/NbMoTaW nanolaminates

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  • ReceivedJul 31, 2019
  • AcceptedSep 23, 2019
  • PublishedNov 7, 2019


Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51621063,51722104,51625103,51790482,51761135031,51571157)

the National Key Research and Development Program of China(2017YFA0700701,2017YFB0702301)

and the 111 Project 2.0 of China(BP2018008)

China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2017T100744)

Shaanxi Province innovative talents promotion Projects(2018KJXX-004)


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51621063, 51722104, 51625103, 51790482, 51761135031 and 51571157), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0700701 and 2017YFB0702301), the 111 Project 2.0 of China (BP2018008), the International Joint Laboratory for Micro/Nano Manufacturing and Measurement Technologies, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (xzy022019071). Zhang J is grateful for the Fok Ying-Tong Education Foundation (161096), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017T100744) and Shaanxi Province innovative talents promotion Projects (2018KJXX-004). Wu K thanks the support from China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M602811). We thank Dr. Guo SW of Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) and Dr. Li J at the Instrument Analysis Center of XJTU for their great assistance in TEM analysis.

Interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Contributions statement

Sun J and Liu G supervised the project. Zhang J initiated the research concept. Zhao Y, Wang Y and Wu K conducted the experiments. Zhang J, Liu G and Sun J interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript, with significant input from all other authors.

Author information

Yufang Zhao received her BSc from the Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2016 and is now a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Jun Sun at the College of Material Science and Engineering in Xi’an Jiaotong University. Her current research interest is the mechanical behavior of nanolaminates.

Jinyu Zhang earned his BSc degree from Lan-zhou University of Technology (2005), and PhD degree (2011) in material science and engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University. He joined Prof. Liu Gang’s group in 2012 and was promoted to professor in 2017. His research focuses on the strengthening & toughening and deformation of nanostructured metals.

Gang Liu obtained his BSc degree from Wuhan University of Science and Technology (1996) and PhD degree in material science and engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2002. In 2005, he joined Prof. Jun Sun’s group as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 2008. His current research focuses on the aging dynamics of aluminum alloy and its simulation, and quantitative relationship between microstructure and macroscopic properties of materials.

Jun Sun obtained his BSc degree from Jilin University (1982) and PhD degree in material science and engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 1989. In 2002, he joined the State Key Laboratory for Mechanical Behavior of Materials in Xi’an Jiaotong University, where he is currently professor and group leader. His research focuses on the multiscale effect of materials’ deformation and transformation, and microstructure optimization and mechanical properties enhancement of metals.


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  • Figure 1

    (a) XRD patterns for Cu/HEA NLs with different layer thicknesses h. Representative cross-sectional TEM images of Cu/HEA NLs with h = 10 (c) and 50 nm (e) showing clearly modulated structure. Typical HRTEM images of Cu/HEA NLs with h = 5 (b) and 10 nm (d) showing the amorphous-like microstructure of the HEA layers. (f) HRTEM images of Cu/HEA NLs with h = 50 nm. The corresponding SADPs inserted in (c, e) exhibit strong Cu (111) & (200) and HEA (110) & (200) textures.

  • Figure 2

    (a) The typical XTEM image of the indented Cu/HEA NLs with h = 50 nm, showing a shear band. (b) The magnified view of the boxed region in (a), showing fracture appears in the hard NbMoTaW layers of the highly deformed regions. (c) The HRTEM image of the boxed region in (b). (d) The plastic strain as a function of the number of layers for each constituent layer along the red solid line in (a), showing Cu layers dominate the plastic deformation.

  • Figure 3

    (a) Typical load-depth curves of Cu/HEA NLs with different h. The dependence of hardness H on the layer thickness h for (b) Cu/HEA NLs, compared with the hardness of NLs calculated from ROM. (c) The hardness H as a function of h−1/2 for the present Cu/HEA NLs, compared with the reported FCC/BCC Cu/Nb [20], Cu/Cr [22], Cu/Mo [34], Cu/W [38] and Cu/Ta [39] NLs. The corresponding hardnesses HROM calculated from ROM are displayed at the right side in (c), as indicated by the lines with different colors.

  • Figure 4

    (a) Log hardness H vs. log strain rate plots of Cu/HEA NLs with different h, in which the slope of each line represents the SRS index m. (b) The m of Cu/HEA NLs as a function of h, compared with the reported Cu/Mo NLs [34], respectively. The lines in (b) are calculated by the present model. For details see the text.


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