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Science 13 August 2004:
Vol. 305. no. 5686, pp. 986 - 989
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098993


Sample Dimensions Influence Strength and Crystal Plasticity

Michael D. Uchic,1* Dennis M. Dimiduk,1 Jeffrey N. Florando,2 William D. Nix3

When a crystal deforms plastically, phenomena such as dislocation storage, multiplication, motion, pinning, and nucleation occur over the submicron-to-nanometer scale. Here we report measurements of plastic yielding for single crystals of micrometer-sized dimensions for three different types of metals. We find that within the tests, the overall sample dimensions artificially limit the length scales available for plastic processes. The results show dramatic size effects at surprisingly large sample dimensions. These results emphasize that at the micrometer scale, one must define both the external geometry and internal structure to characterize the strength of a material.

1 Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433–7817, USA.
2 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA.
3 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305–2205, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: michael.uchic{at}

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Science. ISSN 0036-8075 (print), 1095-9203 (online)