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15 October 2015 Size effect study of thin film hardness using AFM nano-indentation
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With nano-level spatial and force resolution, atomic force microscope (AFM) becomes an indispensable nanoindentation measurement instrument for thin films and soft films. To do the research of size effect of the hardness property of thin films, indentation experiments have been done on a gold film with 200 nm thickness and a silicon nitride film with 110 nm thickness. It is possible to change the maximum load forces to get discrete residual depths on the film samples. The contact depths of the gold film are 15.91 nm and 26.67 nm respectively, while the contact depths of the silicon nitride film are 7.82 nm and 10.25 nm respectively. A group of nanoindentation force curves are recorded for the transformation into force-depth curves. Subsequently, a 3D image of the residual indentation can be obtained by in-situ scanning immediately after nanoindentation. The topography data is imported into a Matlab program to estimate the contact area of the indentation. For the gold film, the hardness parameters of 3.31 GPa and 2.57 GPa are calculated under the above two contact depths. And for silicon nitride film, the corresponding results are 6.51GPa and 3.58 GPa. The experimental results illustrate a strong size effect for thin film hardness. The correction of the residual indentation image of the gold film is also done as an initial study. Blind tip reconstruction (BTR) algorithm is introduced to calibrate the tip shape, and more reliable hardness values of 1.15 GPa and 0.94 GPa are estimated.
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Linyan Xu, Shuangbei Qian, Juan Li, Congcong Liu, Shijia Guo, Di Huang, Sen Wu, and Xiaodong Hu "Size effect study of thin film hardness using AFM nano-indentation", Proc. SPIE 9673, AOPC 2015: Micro/Nano Optical Manufacturing Technologies; and Laser Processing and Rapid Prototyping Techniques, 96730E (15 October 2015);

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