The microstructural transformations of binary nanometallic multilayers (NMMs) to equiaxed nanostructured materials were explored by characterizing a variety of nanoscale multilayer films. Four material systems of multilayer films, Hf-Ti, Ta-Hf, W-Cr, and Mo-Au, were synthesized by magnetron sputtering, heat treated at 1000 °C, and subsequently characterized by transmission electron microscopy. Binary systems were selected based on thermodynamic models predicting stable nanograin formation with similar global compositions around 20–30 at.%. All NMMs maintained nanocrystalline grain sizes after evolution into an equiaxed structure, where the systems with highly mobile incoherent interfaces or higher energy interfaces showed a more significant increase in grain size. Furthermore, varying segregation behaviors were observed, including grain boundary (GB) segregation, precipitation, and intermetallic formation depending on the material system selected. The pathway to tailored microstructures was found to be governed by key mechanisms and factors as determined by a film’s initial characteristics, including global and local composition, interface energy, layer structure, and material selection. This work presents a global evaluation of NMM systems and demonstrates their utility as foundation materials to promote tailored nanomaterials.
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