Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

X-ray asterism and the structure of cracks from indentations in silicon

Tanner, B.K.; Garagorri, J.; Gorostegui-Colinas, E.; Elizalde, M.R.; Allen, D.M.; McNally, P.J.; Wittge, J.; Ehlers, C.; Danilewsky, A.N.


B.K. Tanner

J. Garagorri

E. Gorostegui-Colinas

M.R. Elizalde

D.M. Allen

P.J. McNally

J. Wittge

C. Ehlers

A.N. Danilewsky


The asterism observed in white radiation X-ray diffraction images (topographs) of extended cracks in silicon is investigated and found to be associated with material that is close to breakout and surrounded by extensive cracking. It is a measure of the mechanical damage occurring when the fracture planes do not follow the low-index cleavage planes associated with the crystal structure. It is not related to a propensity for some cracked wafers to shatter during subsequent high-temperature processing. There is no correlation between crack morphology and alignment of an indenter with respect to the orientation of a silicon wafer, the cracks being generated from the apices of the indenter and having threefold symmetry for Berkovich indents and fourfold symmetry for Vickers indents. X-ray diffraction imaging (XRDI) of indents does not reveal this underlying symmetry and the images exhibit a very substantial degree of variation in their extent. This arises because the XRDI contrast is sensitive to the long-range strain field around the indent and breakout reduces the extent of this long-range strain field. Breakout is also detected in the loss of symmetry in the short-range strain field imaged by scanning micro-Raman spectroscopy. Weak fourfold symmetric features at the extremes of the images, and lying along <110> directions, are discussed in the context of slip generated below the room-temperature indents. Scanning electron microscopy imaging of the region around an indent during focused ion beam milling has permitted the three-dimensional reconstruction of the crack morphology. The surface-breaking Palmqvist cracks are found to be directly connected to the median subsurface cracks, and the presence of extensive lateral cracks is a prerequisite for material breakout at indenter loads above 200 mN. The overall crack shape agrees with that predicted from simulation


Tanner, B., Garagorri, J., Gorostegui-Colinas, E., Elizalde, M., Allen, D., McNally, P., …Danilewsky, A. (2016). X-ray asterism and the structure of cracks from indentations in silicon. Journal of Applied Crystallography, 49(1), 250-259.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 1, 2016
Publication Date Feb 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 9, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 18, 2016
Journal Journal of Applied Crystallography
Print ISSN 0021-8898
Electronic ISSN 1600-5767
Publisher International Union of Crystallography
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 1
Pages 250-259


You might also like

Downloadable Citations