Indentation-induced phase transformations in silicon as a function of history of unloading


A crystalline silicon surface, loaded by a Berkovich indenter to a constant maximum load, was unloaded using three unload functions, each consisting of five linear segments of equal time period. The first function had an exponentially decaying unload rate and was found to promote a pop-out event more readily than the second function, having a linear unload rate, or the third case with its unload rate increasing with time. Statistical analyses of experimental data suggest that the unload rate within 20%–30% of the maximum load, when the mean contact pressure in the indent volume is roughly 5 to 6 GPa, is the most dominant factor influencing the probabilistic occurrence of a pop-out event. Unload rates at higher load levels were shown to have a much less significant effect on the probability of pop-out occurrence.

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The authors would like to acknowledge WRiota Pty Ltd. and the Australian Research Council for funding this project.

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Correspondence to N. Fujisawa.

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Fujisawa, N., Keikotlhaile, R., Bradby, J. et al. Indentation-induced phase transformations in silicon as a function of history of unloading. Journal of Materials Research 23, 2645–2649 (2008).

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