IAM - Computational Materials Science

Brittle-to-ductile transition in ultra thin Ta/Cu film systems

  • Author:

    P.A. Gruber, E. Arzt, R. Spolenak

  • Source:

    Journal of Materials Research, Band 24, Seiten 1906-1918 (2009)

  • Current semiconductor technology demands the use of compliant substrates for flexible integrated circuits. However, the maximum total strain of such devices is often limited by the extensibility of the metallic components. Although cracking in thin films is extensively studied theoretically, little experimental work has been carried out thus far. Here, we present a systematic study of the cracking behavior of 34 to 506 nm thick Cu films on polyimide with 3.5 to 19 nm-thick Ta interlayers. The film systems have been investigated by a synchrotron-based tensile testing technique and in situ tensile tests in a scanning electron microscope. By relating the energy release during cracking obtained from the stress-strain curves to the crack area, the fracture toughness of the Cu films can be obtained. It increases with Cu film thickness and decreases with increasing Ta film thickness. Films thinner than 70 nm exhibit brittle fracture, indicating an increasing inherent brittleness of the Cu films.