Due to their exceptional properties, metallic nanomaterials have been widely studied in the past decades and several phenomena not accessible in the conventional grain size regime have been reported. However, their origins as well as general conclusions regarding grain size dependencies of properties, deformation and failure behavior still remain controversially discussed. The main reason for the contradictory results is that properties of nanometals not only depend on the grain size but can be affected by several other variables as well. Relaxation of defects or segregation of solutes to the interfaces could strongly affect properties. As independent of the synthesis process these variables need to be changed to alter the grain size, intrinsic grain size effects of nanocrystalline materials have remained uncertain.
The REVEAL project aims to develop an innovative approach that allows for the first time to overcome these difficulties and enables processing of nanomaterials with varying grain size without changing their relaxation state or chemistry. This will become possible by using hydrogen as a temporary but reversible alloying element that allows to adjust nanostructures with different grain sizes at identical processing temperatures by severe plastic deformation. After the synthesis process, hydrogen desorption will leave clean samples with different grain sizes behind, and thus allow to unambiguously separate grain size from other effects such as segregated solutes.
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