The focused ion beam (FIB) technique is a versatile tool for nanoscale manipulation, deposition and etching. However, degradation mechanisms which lead to residual stresses in materials exposed to high-energy ion beams are not well understood. In this study, we examine the evolution of residual stresses in 100 nm thick freestanding aluminum films subjected to typical ion beam exposures within a commercial FIB tool. Experimental results show that the magnitude of the residual stresses increase with cumulative ion beam exposure and that upper limits are attainable. Further investigation demonstrates that a decrease in ion beam current at constant acceleration-voltage augments the upper limits, which manifests itself in greater residual stresses. The stress gradients in thin films develop from surface modifications in the form of amorphous top layers, which are modeled as bilayer approximations. Experimental observations and analysis indicate that ion beam exposure effects on the mechanical properties of nanoscale thin films and nanostructures cannot be ignored.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering