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Nanometer-sized silicon (Si) tips were mechanically bonded and retracted by piezo driving inside a high-resolution transmission electron microscope. The process was directly observed in situ at a spatial resolution of 0.2 nm. It was found that crystalline-Si/amorphous-Si oxide/crystalline-Si boundaries were produced by contact at room temperature. The deformation and strength of the boundaries were investigated. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.