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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Nov 30;109(22):225501. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

In situ visualization of birth and annihilation of grain boundaries in an Au nanocrystal.

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  • 1School of Physics and Technology, Center for Electron Microscopy and MOE Key Laboratory of Artificial Micro- and Nano-structures, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China.


The formation and vanishing processes of a low angle grain boundary (GB) in nanosized Au during tension and release of stress, respectively, were obsvered by in situ high resolution transmission electron microscopy. The nucleation of perfect dislocations led to the formation of a 15° low angle GB inside an Au nanocrystal upon off-axial tensile loading (coupled uniaxial tensile and bending stress). Strikingly, the dislocations were completely annihilated accompanied with the disappearance of the GB after the removal of external stress, indicating that plastic bending is recoverable in the nanocrystal. The back force and surface stress played important roles in such a pseudoelastic behavior. This transient GB dynamics cannot be captured in ex situ experimental investigations. Such pseudoelastic bending deformation in nanosized crystals will have an important impact on the designing of nanomechanical devices with ultrahigh bending capability.

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