Sample Size Induced Brittle-to-Ductile Transition of Single-Crystal Aluminum Nitride
ARMY RESEARCH LAB ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD WEAPONS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH DIRECTORATE
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Ceramics are known to be mechanically hard, chemically inert and electrically insulating for many important applications.However, they usually suffer from brittleness and have moderate strength that strongly depends on their microscopic structure.In this study, we report a size induced brittle-to-ductile transition in single-crystal aluminum nitride AlN. When thespecimen diameters are smaller than 3--4 um, AlN micropillars show metal-like plastic flow under room-temperatureuniaxial compression. The unprecedented plastic strain of 5--10 together with the ultrahigh strength of 6.7 GPa has neverbeen achieved before. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrates that dislocations play a dominant role in the plasticityof the micro-sized AlN.