In situ indentation of nanoporous gold thin films in the transmission electron microscope

Y. E. Sun, Y. E. Jia, Andrew M. Minor, T. John Balk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The mechanical behavior of nanoporous gold was investigated during in situ nano- indentation in the transmission electron microscope. Thin films of nanoporous gold, with ligaments and pores of the order of 10-nm diameter, offer a highly constrained geometry for deformation and thus provide an opportunity to study the role of defects such as dislocations in the plasticity of nanomaterials. Films ranging in thickness from 75 to 300 nm were indented, while the motion of dislocations and deformation of ligaments were observed in situ. Dislocations were generated and moved along ligament axes, after which they interacted with other dislocations in the nodes of the porous network. For thicker films, the load-displacement curves exhibited load drops at regular intervals. The question of whether the spacing of these load drops was related to the collapse of pores in the nanoporous films or due to bursts of plasticity within the ligaments was investigated. Additionally, the effect of the indenter displacement rate on the mechanical response of these gold films with nanoscale porosity was investigated. Indentation rates were varied from 1.5 to 30 nm/s. There appears to be a kinetic factor related to dislocation nucleation, where slower displacement rates cause load drops to occur at shorter distance intervals and over longer time intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-241
Number of pages10
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Dislocations
  • Gold
  • Loading rate
  • Mechanical behavior
  • Porous materials
  • TEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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