Professor Nix obtained his B.S. degree in Metallurgical Engineering from San Jose State College, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science, respectively, from Stanford University. He joined the faculty at Stanford in 1963 and was appointed Professor in 1972. He was named the Lee Otterson Professor of Engineering at Stanford University in 1989 and served as Chairman of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 1991 to 1996. He became Professor Emeritus in 2003. In 2001 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree by the Colorado School of Mines and in 2007 an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering by the University of Illinois. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Northwestern University in 2012.

Research Interests

I have been engaged in the study of mechanical properties of materials for more than 40 years. My early work was on high temperature creep and fracture of metals, focusing on techniques for measuring internal back stresses in deforming metals and featuring the modeling of diffusional deformation and cavity growth processes. My students and I also studied high temperature dispersion strengthening mechanisms and described the effects of threshold stresses on these creep processes. Since the mid-1980's we have focused most of our attention on the mechanical properties of thin film materials used in microprocessors and related devices. We have developed many of the techniques that are now used to study of thin film mechanical properties, including nanoindentation, substrate curvature methods, bulge testing methods and the mechanical testing of micromachined (MEMS) structures. We are also known for our work on the mechanisms of strain relaxation in heteroepitaxial thin films and plastic deformation of thin metal films on substrates. In addition we have engaged in research on the growth, characterization and modeling of thin film microstructures, especially as they relate to the development of intrinsic stresses. Our current work deals with the mechanical properties of nanostructures and with strain gradients and size effects on the mechanical properties of crystalline materials.

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Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences