Journal article

Mechanical analysis of ultrathin oxide coatings on polymer substrates in-situ in a scanning electron microscope

Uniaxial fragmentation tests were carried out in situ in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) on 10-nm-thick silicon oxide coatings deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition on poly(ethylene terephthalate). In order to prevent charging effects due to the isolating nature of the oxide surface, an additional conductive gold layer was sputtered onto the coating prior to its tensile loading in the SEM chamber. The gold layer was shown not to affect initiation of tensile failure of the oxide coating, and was used to achieve optimal resolution by eliminating charging effects in the low-strain range. In contrast, in the high strain range, the failure behavior of the oxide coating was found to be modified by the gold layer. It was nevertheless possible to analyze the damage mechanisms of the thin coating without a gold layer due to sufficient crack opening. The coating cohesive strength was found to be equal to 5.1 GPa, and the coatingypolymer interfacial strength was found to be equal to 84 MPa using a Weibull size-dependent probability of failure for the oxide, and assuming a perfectly plastic stress transfer between the different layers.


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