Experimental Mechanics

, Volume 55, Issue 9, pp 1681–1690 | Cite as

In-Situ Measurements of Free-Standing, Ultra-Thin Film Cracking in Bending

  • E. HintsalaEmail author
  • D. Kiener
  • J. Jackson
  • W. W. Gerberich


Metallic thin films are widely used and relied upon for various technologies. Direct measurements of fracture toughness are rare for metallic thin films and existing methods for obtaining these measurements often do not provide characterization of the cracking process for determination of crack growth mechanisms. To rectify this, we explore a new technique which utilizes doubly clamped, in-situ three-point bend testing of micro-scale and nano-scale specimens. This is done by in-situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) mechanical testing for specimens with thicknesses of 2500 nm (SEM), 500 nm (SEM) and 100 nm (TEM). For in-situ TEM, a novel notching method is employed using the converged electron beam which achieves a notch radius of approximately 5 nm. Additionally, we present supporting characterization using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) for 2500 nm thick specimens as a demonstration of the potential of this technique for understanding local deformation. Analysis of the acquired data presents several issues that require addressing, and recommendations for future improvements are given.


Electron backscatter diffraction Fracture testing Electron micrscopy Steel Nanomechanics 



Funding by INL (DOE) Grant #00109759 (Sub-contract to DE-AC07-951014517) and the Marshall Plan scholarship foundation via Montanuniversität Leoben. The authors would also like to thank Ruth Treml, Peter Imrich and Stefan Wurster for their help on this project. DK acknowledges funding from the Austrian Science Fund FWF (project number P25325-N20).

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Society for Experimental Mechanics 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials PhysicsMontanuniversität LeobenLeobenAustria
  3. 3.Idaho National LaboratoryIdaho FallsUSA

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