Ultrahigh strength single crystalline nanowhiskers grown by physical vapor deposition

Nano Lett. 2009 Aug;9(8):3048-52. doi: 10.1021/nl9015107.


The strength of metal crystals is reduced below the theoretical value by the presence of dislocations or by flaws that allow easy nucleation of dislocations. A straightforward method to minimize the number of defects and flaws and to presumably increase its strength is to increase the crystal quality or to reduce the crystal size. Here, we describe the successful fabrication of high aspect ratio nanowhiskers from a variety of face-centered cubic metals using a high temperature molecular beam epitaxy method. The presence of atomically smooth, faceted surfaces and absence of dislocations is confirmed using transmission electron microscopy investigations. Tensile tests performed in situ in a focused-ion beam scanning electron microscope on Cu nanowhiskers reveal strengths close to the theoretical upper limit and confirm that the properties of nanomaterials can be engineered by controlling defect and flaw densities.