Plasticity at the micron scale. (English) Zbl 1075.74022

Summary: Over a scale which extends from about a fraction of a micron to tens of microns, metals display a strong size-dependence when deformed non uniformly into the plastic range: smaller is stronger. This effect has important implications for an increasing number of applications in electronics, structural materials and MEMS. Plastic behavior at this scale cannot be characterized by conventional plasticity theories because they incorporate no material length scale and predict no size effect. While micron sized solid objects are too small to be characterized by conventional theory, they are usually too large to be amenable to analysis using approaches presently available based on discrete dislocation mechanics. The relatively large numbers of dislocations governing plastic deformation at the micron scale motivate the development of a continuum theory of plasticity incorporating size-dependence. Strain gradient theories of plasticity have been developed for this purpose. The motivation and potential for such theories will be discussed. Important open issues surrounding the foundations of strain gradient plasticity will also be addressed and a few critical experiments identified.


74C99 Plastic materials, materials of stress-rate and internal-variable type
74A60 Micromechanical theories
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