Nanoparticles show a conspicuous lack of dislocations, even after significant deformation. Therefore, it has been suggested that dislocations cannot exist or/do not play a role on the deformation of nanoparticles. In situ TEM nanoindentation is a critical tool for addressing this issue because it allows for the deformation to be monitored in real time. In this article, we discuss some of the experimental needs and challenges for performing in situ nanoindentation TEM experiments on nanoparticles. In addition, we show both diffraction contrast and phase contrast in situ TEM nanoindentation experiments on silver nanoparticles with diameters below 50 nm. Evidence of the presence of dislocations was observed during deformation, but upon unloading dislocations disappeared.
This paper was originally published in Micron (2012) 43, 1134-1139.