Biaxial fragmentation of thin silicon oxide coatings on polyethylene terephthalate
Crack patterns of 53 nm and 103 nm thick silicon oxide coatings on poly(ethylene terephthalate) films are analyzed under equibiaxial stress loading, by means of a bulging cell mounted under an optical microscope with stepwise pressurization of film specimens. The biaxial stress and strain are modeled from classical elastic membrane equations, and an excellent agreement is obtained with a finite element method. In the large pressure range, the derivation of the biaxial strain from force equilibrium considerations are found to reproduce accurately the measured data up to 25% strain. The examination of the fragmentation process of the coating under increasing pressure levels reveals that the crack onset strain of the oxide coating is similar to that measured under uniaxial tension. The fragmentation of the coating under biaxial tension is also characterized by complex dynamic phenomena which image the peculiarities of the stress field, resulting in considerable broadening of the fragment size distribution. The evolution of the average fragment area as a function of biaxial stress in the early stages of the fragmentation process is analyzed using Weibull statistics to describe the coating strength.