Nanostructured materials are being extensively studied because their ∼1–100nm grain size can dramatically affect properties. Most nanocrystalline synthesis methods produce particulate or flake. The process of consolidation also allows coarsening, contamination, and the introduction of porosity. The effect of nanocrystallinity on mechanical properties must be deconvoluted from these extrinsic artifacts. Most synthesis routes also produce small quantities of material. Reproducibly making enough specimens to explore more than a few properties is thus difficult. This paper describes thin-film processes to produce nanostructured materials. Thin-film deposition can easily produce many specimens, free from extrinsic artifacts, with identical composition and processing history. Many methods are now well established to study a variety of thin-film mechanical properties. We show examples of nanostructured films generated by controlling deposition and/or post-deposition processing.
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