Nanostructured film is a film resulting from the engineering of nanoscale features, such as dislocation, grain boundaries, defective or twinning. Unlike other nanostructures, such as nanoparticles, the film itself may be up to a few microns thick, but has a large concentration of nanoscale features that are homogeneously distributed throughout the film. Like other nanomaterials, nanostructured films have attracted a great deal of interest as they possess unique properties not found in bulk, non-nanostructured materials of the same composition. In particular, nanostructured films have been the subject of recent research due to their superior mechanical properties, including strength, hardness and corrosion resistance compared to regular films of the same material. Examples of nanostructured films include those produced by grain boundary engineering, such as nano-twinned ultra-fine grain copper, or dual phase nanostructuring, such as crystalline metal and amorphous metallic glass nanocomposites.
Nanostructured films are commonly produced using magnetron sputtering from the appropriate target material. Films can be elementary in nature, formed by sputtering from a pure metal target, such as copper, or made up of compound materials.
Methods used to characterize nanostructured films include electron microscopy transmission, scanning electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, ion-focused beam milling, and nanoindentation. These techniques are used to allow the imaging of nanoscale structures, including dislocations, twinning, grain boundary, film morphology, and atomic structure.
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