Exceptional fracture resistance of ultrathin metallic glass films due to an intrinsic size effect

Oleksandr Glushko, Marlene Mühlbacher, Christoph Gammer, Megan J. Cordill, Christian Mitterer, Jürgen Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Metallic glasses typically fail in a brittle manner through shear band propagation but can exhibit significant ductility when the sample size is reduced below a few hundreds of nanometers. To date the size effect was mainly demonstrated for free-standing samples and the role of extrinsic setup parameters on the observed behavior is still under debate. Therefore, in the present work we investigated the mechanical properties of polymer-supported sputtered amorphous Pd 82Si 18 thin films with various thicknesses. We show that the films exhibit brittle fracture for thicknesses far below 100 nm. A pronounced size effect resulting in extended crack-free deformation up to 6% strain was observed only in films as thin as 7 nm – a thickness which is lower than the typical shear band thickness. This size effect results in exceptional cyclic reliability of ultrathin metallic glass films which can sustain cyclic strains of 3% up to at least 30,000 cycles without any indication of fatigue damage or electrical conductivity degradation. Since the enhancement of mechanical properties is observed at ambient conditions using inexpensive substrates and an industrially scalable sputter deposition technique, a new research avenue for utilization of ultrathin metallic glasses in microelectronics, flexible electronics or nanoelectromechanical devices is opened up.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8281
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScientific reports (e-only)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019

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