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Thin solid aluminum film thermal flow into submicron-sized periodic grooves fabricated on a silicon oxide substrate has been studied in situ by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Preparation of an aluminum film on the substrate was carried out using an evaporator installed in the specimen chamber of a TEM. The aluminum film was then gradually heated in situ in the microscope. At temperatures around 878 K, the polycrystalline aluminum film on the surface of the substrate started to flow into the grooves, and eventually the grooves were filled with polycrystalline aluminum. At 933 K, the aluminum in the grooves melted. It was confirmed that thin-film thermal flow into the grooves took place in the solid state. It is suggested that a creep deformation of the film driven by surface tension is responsible for this flow. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.