An experimental methodology for characterizing fracture of hard thin films under cyclic contact loading

Akio YONEZU, Baoxing XU, Xi CHEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Hard thin films are often employed as protective coatings for metal substrates and their fatigue/fracture property (especially that under contact) needs to be sufficiently understood. In this study, we present a combined experimental/computational framework for exploring the fracture characteristics of hard thin films upon both monotonic and cyclic contacts. The techniques of acoustic emission and corrosion potential fluctuation are combined to monitor the mode and initiation of crack, and numerical simulations based on the finite element method provide further information on the criterion of film fracture. For a model system of a TiN film physical vapor deposited onto a stainless steel substrate, ring cracks are produced when the stress in the film exceeds critical - such a critical moment arrives when the substrate undergoes excessive deformation, which makes the curvature of film bending critical just outside the contact zone. Since cyclic contact loading encourages large plastic deformation of substrate due to ratcheting plasticity, it is found that the critical contact force degrades, compared with monotonic loading. The present experimental/computational methodology is useful for obtaining the information of film fracture property under both monotonic and cyclic contact loads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2082-2089
Number of pages8
JournalThin Solid Films
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The work of A.Y. is supported in part by Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientist of (B) ( No.19760075 ) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan , Grant of General Research for Electricity & Energy of TEPCO Research Foundation , and Research Grant (AF-2008036) of AMADA Foundation for Metal Work Technology . The work of B.X and X.C. is supported in part by the National Science Foundation CMMI-0407743 and CMMI-CAREER-0643726.


  • Fatigue
  • Fracture
  • Indentation
  • Thin Film


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