Nanometallic multilayers are a unique class of thin films and coatings composed of alternating nanoscale layers of different materials. The interplay of these layers increases the potential for novel combinations of properties, including transparency and strength. These characteristics are important for applications that require light penetration for function but a robust barrier for protection. For these reasons, optically transparent multilayers are promising materials because they offer extraordinary strength, hardness, heat resistance, and most importantly, transparency in both the UV/Vis/NIR wavelengths.
Initial compositions, layer thicknesses, and interface arrangements in these optical multilayers are examined to optimize mechanical properties and transmittance in the UV/Vis/NIR wavelengths, in order to develop durable optical materials with large windows of transmission. Relationships between mechanical properties and optical performance of transparent multilayers have yet to be explored. To address this, nanoindentation is used to provide further understanding of the deformation mechanisms, length-scale effects, and interface effects.