A new in situ technique for studying deformation and fracture in thin film ductile/brittle laminates

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A new technique for studying deformation and fracture of thin film ductile/brittle laminates is described. The laminates are prepared by sputtering a brittle coating on top of an electropolished TEM thin foil. The composites are then strained in situ in the TEM. In this preliminary investigation, the composites consisted of a ductile aluminum substrate and a brittle silicon coating. Cracks in the brittle film grew discontinuously in bursts several micrometers in length. The crack opening displacement initiated plastic deformation in the ductile film, thus dissipating energy and allowing crack arrest. The interface was well bonded, and delamination was not observed. Due to the good interfacial bond and the crack opening behind the crack tip, it was possible to study very large plastic deformations and ductile fracture in the aluminum in situ, without buckling of the foil. The possibility of micromechanical modeling of the fracture behavior is briefly discussed. © 1991.

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