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Published April 1, 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Competing failure mechanisms in thin films: Application to layer transfer


We investigate the origin of transverse cracks often observed in thin films obtained by the layer transfer technique. During this process, two crystals bonded to each other containing a weak plane produced by ion implantation are heated to let a thin layer of one of the material on the other. The level of stress imposed on the film during the heating phase due to the mismatch of thermal expansion coefficients of the substrate and the film is shown to be the dominent factor in determining the quality of the transferred layer. In particular, it is shown that if the film is submitted to a tensile stress, the microcracks produced by ion implantation are not stable and deviate from the plane of implantation making the layer transfer process impossible. However, if the compressive stress exceeds a threshold value, after layer transfer, the film can buckle and delaminate, leading to transverse cracks induced by bending. As a result, we show that the imposed stress σ_m —- or equivalently the heating temperature -— must be within the range −σ_c<σ_m<0 to produce an intact thin film where σ_c depends on the interfacial fracture energy and the size of defects at the interface between film and substrate.

Additional Information

©2009 American Institute of Physics. Received 22 October 2008; accepted 29 December 2008; published 7 April 2009. This work has been supported by the Center for the Science and Engineering of Materials (CSEM).

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