In-Situ Measurements of Free-Standing, Ultra-Thin Film Cracking in Bending

E. Hintsala, D. Kiener, J. Jackson, William W Gerberich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Metallic thin films are widely used and relied upon for various technologies. Direct measurements of fracture toughness are rare for metallic thin films and existing methods for obtaining these measurements often do not provide characterization of the cracking process for determination of crack growth mechanisms. To rectify this, we explore a new technique which utilizes doubly clamped, in-situ three-point bend testing of micro-scale and nano-scale specimens. This is done by in-situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) mechanical testing for specimens with thicknesses of 2500 nm (SEM), 500 nm (SEM) and 100 nm (TEM). For in-situ TEM, a novel notching method is employed using the converged electron beam which achieves a notch radius of approximately 5 nm. Additionally, we present supporting characterization using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) for 2500 nm thick specimens as a demonstration of the potential of this technique for understanding local deformation. Analysis of the acquired data presents several issues that require addressing, and recommendations for future improvements are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1690
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Society for Experimental Mechanics.


  • Electron backscatter diffraction
  • Electron micrscopy
  • Fracture testing
  • Nanomechanics
  • Steel


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