Mechanical behavior of intragranular, nano-porous electrodeposited zinc oxide

R. Raghavan; J. Elias; R. Erni; M. Parlinska; L. Philippe; J. Michler

Thin Solid Films 578 (2015) 174-179

The mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms of nano-porous ZnO thin films electrodeposited on glass substrates were determined by nanoindentation and in situ scanning electron microscope (SEM) micropillar compression. The intragranular nature of the nanoscale porosity within the individual mono-crystals of the films was probed at nano- and micro-scales for determining their mechanical response. The hardness (3.5 GPa) and reduced elastic modulus (65 GPa) of the compact thin film were found to decrease by increasing the intragranular porosity controlled by the electrochemical deposition potential of ZnO. Focused ion beam (FIB) cross-sections of residual imprints reveal that the decrease in hardness and elastic modulus observed is primarily due to compaction of the nano-porous structure. In situ SEM compression of FIB machined micropillars reveals brittle fracture and near theoretical strengths in the compact film (2 GPa), and a higher flaw tolerant response despite lower failure stress in the most porous film.