The deformation mechanisms of GaN thin films obtained by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) method were studied using nanoindentation with a Berkovich diamond indenter, micro-Raman spectroscopy and the cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (XTEM) techniques. Due to the sharpness of the tip of Berkovich indenter, the nanoindentation-induced deformation behaviors can be investigated at relatively lower load and, hence, may cover wider range of deformation-related phenomena over the same loading range. The load-displacement curves show the multiple "pop-ins" during nanoindentation loading. No evidence of nanoindentation-induced phase transformation and cracking patterns were found up to the maximum load of 300 mN, as revealed from the micro-Raman spectra and the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations within the mechanically deformed regions. In addition, XTEM observation performed near the cross-section of the indented area revealed that the primary deformation mechanism in GaN thin film is via propagation of dislocations on both basal and pyramidal planes. The continuous stiffness measurement (CSM) technique was used to determine the hardness and Young's modulus of GaN thin films. In addition, analysis of the load-displacement data reveals that the values of hardness and Young's modulus of GaN thin films are 19 ± 1 and 286 ± 25 GPa, respectively.
- Focused ion beam
- Micro-Raman spectroscopy
- Multiple pop-ins
- Transmission electron microscopy