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Giant pop-ins in nanoindented silicon and germanium caused by lateral cracking

  • D.J. Oliver (a1), B.R. Lawn (a2), R.F. Cook (a2), M.G. Reitsma (a2), J.E. Bradby (a1), J.S. Williams (a1) and P. Munroe (a3)...


Giant “pop-in” displacements are observed in crystalline silicon and germanium during high-load nanoindentation with a spherical diamond tip. These events are consistent with material removal triggered by lateral cracking during loading, which poses a hazard to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) operation. We examine the scaling of the pop-in displacements as a function of peak indentation load and demonstrate a correlation with the depth of the plastic contact zone. We argue that giant pop-ins may occur in a broad range of highly brittle materials.


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