A material configuration of central importance in microelectronics, optoelectronics, and thermal barrier coating technology is a thin film of one material deposited onto a substrate of a different material. Fabrication of such a structure inevitably gives rise to stress in the film due to lattice mismatch, differing coefficient of thermal expansion, chemical reactions, or other physical effects. Therefore, in general, the weakest link in this composite system often resides at the interface between the thin film and substrate. In order to make multi-layered electronic devices and structural composites with long-term reliability, the fracture behavior of the material interfaces must be known. Unfortunately, none of the state-of-the-art testing methods for evaluating interface fracture toughness is fully conformed to fracture mechanics theory, as is evident from the severe scatter in the existing data, and the procedure dependence in thin film/coating evaluation methods. This project is intended to address the problems associated with this deficiency and offers an innovative testing procedure for the determination of interface fracture toughness applicable to thin coating materials in general. Phase I of this new approach and the associated bi-material fracture mechanics development proposed for evaluating interface fracture toughness are described herein. The effort includes development of specimen configuration and related instrumentation set-up, testing procedures, and postmortem examination. A spiral notch torsion fracture toughness test (SNTT) system was utilized. The objectives of the testing procedure described are to enable the development of new coating materials by providing a reliable method for use in assessing their performance.

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