Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Failure of Glass Layers on Polymeric Substrates From Vickers Indentation



Herzl Chai, Brian R. Lawn


A study is made of median crack evolution in brittle coatings subjected to sharp contacts. A model bilayer system consisting of a glass plate bonded to a polycarbonate base, with a Vickers pyramid as indenter, is used to demonstrate the evolution in situ. Newly initiated median cracks have the geometry of subsurface pennies containing the indentation axis and an indenter diagonal. The median cracks undergo a phase of stable downward growth with increasing load. Beyond the coating mid-plane, flexural stresses (coupled with the local contact field) elongate and accelerate the median cracks downward through the lower half of the brittle plate, causing unstable failure. Critical loads corresponding to this failure state diminish with decreasing layer thickness until, at small thicknesses ( 300 m in our bilayer system), failure occurs spontaneously at initiation, i.e. without any stable growth phase. The highly deleterious nature of the median failure mode in a broad spectrum of brittle coatings and films is emphasized.
Scripta Materialia


bilayers, brittle coatings, glass, median cracks, Vickers indentation


Chai, H. and Lawn, B. (2006), Failure of Glass Layers on Polymeric Substrates From Vickers Indentation, Scripta Materialia, [online], (Accessed June 25, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created March 25, 2006, Updated February 19, 2017