Model of superlattice yield stress and hardness enhancements

Xi Chu*, Scott A. Barnett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

507 Scopus citations


A model is presented that explains the yield stress and hardness enhancements that have been observed in superlattice thin films. The stress required for dislocations to glide across layers with different shear moduli was calculated using an expression that accounts for core effects and all interfaces in trapezoidal or sawtooth composition modulations. The predicted strength/hardness enhancement increased with increasing superlattice period Λ, before reaching a saturation value that depended on interface widths. A second mechanism, where dislocations glide within individual layers, was important at large Λ and gave a decrease in strength/hardness with increasing Λ. The combination of these two mechanisms gives a strength/hardness maximum versus Λ in good quantitative agreement with experimental results for nitride and metal superlattices. The results indicate that superlattice strength/hardness depends strongly on interface widths and the difference in shear moduli of the two components for Λ values below the maximum, and on the average shear modulus for larger Λ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4403-4411
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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