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Davide Tranchida, Sascha A. Pihan, Yi Zhang, Holger Schoenherr, Ruediger Berger

Nanomechanical Properties of Advanced Plasma Polymerized Coatings for Mechanical Data Storage

Journal of Physical Chemistry B 115 (2011) 3385-3391

In this paper we report on the unprecedented deformation behavior of stratified ultrathin polymer films. The mechanical behavior of layered nanoscale films composed of 8-12 nm thin plasma polymerized hexamethyldisiloxane (ppHMDSO) films on a 70 nm thick film of polystyrene was unveiled by atomic force microscopy nanoindentation. In particular, we observed transitions from the deformation of a thin plate under point load to an elastic contact of a paraboloid of revolution, followed by an elastic-plastic contact for poly styrene and finally an elastic contact for silicon. The different deformation modes were identified on the basis of force-penetration data and atomic force microscopy images of residual indents. A clear threshold was observed for the onset of plastic deformation of the films at loads larger than 2 mu N. The measured force curves are in agreement with an elastic and elastic-plastic contact mechanics model, taking the amount of deformation and the geometry of the layer that presumably contributed more to the overall deformation into account. This study shows that the complex deformation behavior of advanced soft matter systems with nanoscale dimensions can be successfully unraveled.

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