A new higher order geometrically nonlinear relation is developed to relate the deflection of a thin film /substrate system to the intrinsic film stress when these deflections are larger than the thickness of the substrate. Using the Rayleigh-Ritz method, these nonlinear relations are developed by approximating the out-of-plane deflections by a second-order polynomial and midplane normal strains by sixthorder polynomials. Several plate deflection configurations arise in an isotropic system: at very low intrinsic film stresses, a single, stable, spherical plate configuration is predicted; as the intrinsic film stress increases, the solution bifurcates into one unstable spherical shape and two stable ellipsoidal shapes; in the limit as the intrinsic film stress approaches infinity, the ellipsoidal configurations develop into cylindrical plate curvatures about either one of the two axes. Curvatures predicted by this new relation are significantly more accurate than previous theories when compared to curvatures calculated from three-dimensional nonlinear finite element deflection results. Furthermore, the finite element results display significant transverse stresses in a small boundary region near the free edge.

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