Plastic deformation in nanoscale gold single crystals and open-celled nanoporous gold

Dongyun LEE, Xiaoding WEI, Manhong ZHAO, Xi CHEN, Seong C. JUN, James HONE, Jeffrey W. KYSAR*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The results of two sets of experiments to measure the elastic-plastic behaviour of gold at the nanometre length scale are reported. One set of experiments was on free-standing nanoscale single crystals of gold, and the other was on free-standing nanoscale specimens of open-celled nanoporous gold. Both types of specimens were fabricated from commercially available leaf which was either pure Au or a Au/Ag alloy following by dealloying of the Ag. Mechanical testing specimens of a 'dog-bone' shape were fabricated from the leaf using standard lithographic procedures after the leaf had been glued onto a silicon wafer. The thickness of the gauge portion of the specimens was about 100 nm, the width between 250 nm and 300 nm and the length 7 νm. The specimens were mechanically loaded with a nanoindenter (MTS) at the approximate midpoint of the gauge length. The resulting force-displacement curve of the single crystal gold was serrated and it was evident that slip localization occurred on individual slip systems; however, the early stages of the plastic deformation occurred in a non-localized manner. The results of detailed finite element analyses of the specimen suggest that the critical resolved shear stress of the gold single crystal was as high as 135 MPa which would lead to a maximum uniaxial stress of about 500 MPa after several per cent strain. The behaviour of the nanoporous gold was substantially different. It exhibited an apparent elastic behaviour until the point where it failed in an apparently brittle manner, although it is assumed that plastic deformation occurred in the ligaments prior to failure. The average elastic stiffness of three specimens was measured to be Enp ≤ 8.8 GPa and the stress at ultimate failure averaged 190 MPa for the three specimens tested. Scaling arguments suggest that the stress in the individual ligaments could approach the theoretical shear strength. © 2007 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S181-S192
Number of pages12
JournalModelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Presented at the IUTAM Symposium on Plasticity at the Micron Scale, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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