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Acoustical methods to determine thin-film and nanoscale mechanical properties



Donna C. Hurley, Roy H. Geiss, N Jennett, Malgorzata Kopycinska-Mueller, A Maxwell, Jens Mueller, David T. Read, J Wright


We describe two acoustical methods to evaluate the mechanical properties of thin films and nanoscale structures: atomic force acoustic microscopy and surface acoustic wave spectroscopy. The elastic properties of an 800-nm-thick nickel film were examined with both methods as well as nanoindentation and microtensile testing techiques. Values for the indentation modulus M measured in the film's out-of-plane direction and Young's modulus E measured in the in-plane direction were lower than expected for an isotropic, polycrystalline film. The reduction in stiffness was attributed to grain-boundary effects in the nanocrystalline film. Agreement between the measured and predicted values was improved by reducing the Ni elastic moduli by 10-15 %. Using the measured elastic properties to interpret the surface-wave data, we found that the film density was 1-2 % lower than bulk values. Our results illustrate how complementary methods can provide a more complete and physically realistic picture of a film's properties.
Journal of Materials Research


atomic force microscopy, elastic properties, microtensile testing, nanoindentation, surface acoustic waves, thin films


Hurley, D. , Geiss, R. , Jennett, N. , Kopycinska-Mueller, M. , Maxwell, A. , Mueller, J. , Read, D. and Wright, J. (2005), Acoustical methods to determine thin-film and nanoscale mechanical properties, Journal of Materials Research, [online], (Accessed July 20, 2024)


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Created May 31, 2005, Updated February 19, 2017