Nanoscale elastic-plastic deformation and mechanical properties of 3C-SiC thin film using nanoindentation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-717
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology
Issue number2
Online published14 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


The elastic-plastic deformation of 3C-SiC thin film was investigated by a nanoindenter equipped with the Berkovich tip. Transition from pure elastic to elastic-plastic deformation was evidenced at an approximate load of 0.35 mN, when loading the sample at several peak loads ranging from 0.5 to 5 mN. The indentation size effect observed in 3C-SiC and was analyzed by Nix-Gao model. In purely elastic region, the Oliver- Pharr hardness values were 44 ± 2 GPa. In contrast, indentation size effects were evidenced in 3C-SiC specimen and the average value of Oliver-Pharr hardness in the indentation size effect region was 36 ± 2 GPa. Furthermore, depth independent or intrinsic hardness extracted from Nix-Gao was estimated as Ho = 26 ± 1 GPa which was also validated by proportional specimen resistance model, ie, H1 = 28 ± 1 and H2 = 28.5 ± 0.1 GPa. Besides, energy principle was utilized to extract Sakai Hardness as 104 GPa, which is combined elastic and elastic-plastic response. Moreover, based on energy principle, another property, ie, work of indentation was also determined to be 20 nJ/μm3. Similarly, elastic modulus had almost depicted stabilized value of 325 ± 8 GPa in pure elastic and elastic-plastic regions. In addition, plastic zone size was also estimated in elastic-plastic region using Johnson cavity model at pop-in and higher loads. Based on the first pop-in load at 0.35 mN, the distributions of shear and principal stresses were evaluated on various slip planes to elaborate the deformation behavior. Increase in loading rate from 100 to 400 μN/s increased critical pop-in load from 0.35 to 0.64 mN. This increase in critical pop-in load with increasing loading rate and values of maximum contact pressure indicates that no phase assisted transformation will occur at pop-in load. Based on theoretically calculated maximum tensile and cleavage strengths, it was affirmed that the elastic-plastic deformation occurred due to pop-in formation rather than tensile stresses. Moreover, it was also concluded on basis of Hertzian contact theory and Schmidt law that the highest possibility of slippage in 3C-SiC was along the {111} glide plane.

Research Area(s)

  • 3C-SiC, deformation, elastic-plastic transition, mechanical properties, nanoindentation

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