This review examines the size effects observed in the mechanical strength of thin metal films and small samples such as single-crystalline pillars, whiskers, and wires. Experimental results from mechanical testing and electron microscopy studies, as well as recent insights from discrete dislocation dynamics simulations, are presented. The size dependency of deformation may be separated into three regimes: the nanometer regime of roughly 100 nm and below, an intermediate regime between 100 nm and approximately 1 μm, and a bulk-like regime. We argue that there is no scaling law with one universal power-law exponent encompassing the entire range. Instead, there are a number of different mechanisms and underlying effects, e.g., the initial dislocation microstructure or loading conditions. The complex interaction of these mechanisms leads to the typically observed scaling behavior.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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