Journal of Materials Research


Indentation fracture of low-dielectric constant films: Part II. Indentation fracture mechanics model

Dylan J. Morrisa1 and Robert F. Cooka1

a1 Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-8520


Part I [D.J. Morris and R.F. Cook, J. Mater. Res. 23, 2429 (2008)] of this two-part work explored the instrumented indentation and fracture phenomena of compliant, low-dielectric constant (low-κ) films on silicon substrates. The effect of film thickness and probe acuity on the fracture response, as well as the apparent connection of this response to the perceived elastic modulus, were demonstrated. These results motivate the creation of a fracture model that incorporates all of these variables here in Part II. Indentation wedging is identified as the mechanism that drives radial fracture, and a correction is introduced that adjusts the wedging strength of the probe for the attenuating influence of the relatively stiff substrate. An estimate of the film fracture toughness can be made if there is an independent measurement of the film stress; if not, a critical film thickness for channel-cracking under the influence of film stress may be estimated.

(Received February 5 2008)

(Accepted May 16 2008)

Key Words:

  • Fracture;
  • Thin film;
  • Toughness


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: