The failure of a cross-sectional 65 nm-thick copper and 150 nm-thick niobium multilayer thin film was investigated via an in situ transmission electron microscopy straining experiment. The fracture of the free-standing multilayer films was associated with confined dislocation slip within layers containing and preceding the crack tip. Four crack hindrance mechanisms were observed to operate during crack propagation: microvoid formation, crack deviation, layer necking, and crack blunting. Failure was observed to occur across and through the copper and niobium layers but never within the interfaces or grain boundaries. These results are discussed relative to the length-scale-dependent deformation mechanisms of nanoscale metallic multilayers.

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