Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 41, Issue 23, pp 7704–7719 | Cite as

In situ TEM nanoindentation and dislocation-grain boundary interactions: a tribute to David Brandon

  • Jeff T. M. De HossonEmail author
  • Wouter A. Soer
  • Andrew M. Minor
  • Zhiwei Shan
  • Eric A. Stach
  • S. A. Syed Asif
  • Oden L. Warren


As a tribute to the scientific work of Professor David Brandon, this paper delineates the possibilities of utilizing in situ transmission electron microscopy to unravel dislocation-grain boundary interactions. In particular, we have focused on the deformation characteristics of Al–Mg films. To this end, in situ nanoindentation experiments have been conducted in TEM on ultrafine-grained Al and Al–Mg films with varying Mg contents. The observed propagation of dislocations is markedly different between Al and Al–Mg films, i.e. the presence of solute Mg results in solute drag, evidenced by a jerky-type dislocation motion with a mean jump distance that compares well to earlier theoretical and experimental results. It is proposed that this solute drag accounts for the difference between the load-controlled indentation responses of Al and Al–Mg alloys. In contrast to Al–Mg alloys, several yield excursions are observed during initial indentation of pure Al, which are commonly attributed to the collective motion of dislocations nucleated under the indenter. Displacement-controlled indentation does not result in a qualitative difference between Al and Al–Mg, which can be explained by the specific feedback characteristics providing a more sensitive detection of plastic instabilities and allowing the natural process of load relaxation to occur. The in situ indentation measurements confirm grain boundary motion as an important deformation mechanism in ultrafine-grained Al when it is subjected to a highly inhomogeneous stress field as produced by a Berkovich indenter. It is found that solute Mg effectively pins high-angle grain boundaries during such deformation. The mobility of low-angle boundaries is not affected by the presence of Mg.


Indentation Depth Boundary Motion Load Drop Solute Drag Tilt Boundary 



Indisputably Professor David Brandon became an inspiring and enthusiastic leader in the field of materials science. We are eager to seize this opportunity to thank him for his stimulus provided over the years and for his international leadership. The contributions of Daan Hein Alsem (LBNL–Berkeley) to the preparation of the Al–Mg thin films are gratefully acknowledged. The work is part of the research program of the Netherlands Institute for Metals Research, project nr MC4.01104. The quantitative in-situ nanoindentation holder was developed under a U.S. Department of Energy SBIR grant (DE-FG02–04ER83979) awarded to Hysitron, Inc., which does not constitute an endorsement by DOE of the views expressed in this article. This work also was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff T. M. De Hosson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wouter A. Soer
    • 1
  • Andrew M. Minor
    • 2
  • Zhiwei Shan
    • 2
  • Eric A. Stach
    • 3
  • S. A. Syed Asif
    • 4
  • Oden L. Warren
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Applied Physics, Materials Science Centre and the Netherlands Institute for Metals ResearchUniversity of GroningenGroningenthe Netherlands
  2. 2.National Center for Electron MicroscopyLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.School of Materials EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  4. 4.Hysitron, Inc.MinneapolisUSA

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