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Strength Measurement in Brittle Thin Films

  • Oscar Borrero-Lopez (a1), Mark Hoffman (a2), Avi Bendavid (a3) and Phil J Martin (a4)


In this work we have investigated the strength variability of brittle thin films (thickness ≤ 1 μm) utilising a simple test methodology. Nanoindentation of as-deposited tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) and Ti-Si-N nanocomposite films on silicon substrates followed by cross-sectional examination of the damage with a Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Miller allows the occurrence of cracking to be assessed in comparison with discontinuities (pop-ins) in the load-displacement curves. Strength is determined from the critical loads at which cracking occurs using the theory of plates on a soft foundation. This is of great relevance, since the fracture strength of thin films ultimately controls their reliable use in a broad range of functional applications.



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