Explicit relationship between electrical and topological degradation of polymer-supported metal films subjected to mechanical loading

Year: 
2017
Month: 
5
Day: 
8
Pages: 
ARTN 191904
DOI: 
10.1063/1.4982802
Type: 
Journal Articles
Journal: 
Applied Physics Letter
Volume: 
110
Abstract: 

For a comprehensive characterization of mechanical reliability of metallization layers on polymer substrates, both electrical and mechanical degradation should be taken into account. Although it is evident that cracking of a conductive film should lead to electrical degradation, the quantitative relationship between the growth of electric resistance and parameters of the induced crack pattern has remained thus far unexplored. With the help of finite element modelling, we were able to find an explicit and concise expression which shows that electrical resistancegrows with the fourth order of the crack length and second order of the areal crack density. The discovered relationship was verified by comparison with the experimental results of tensile testing of polymer-supported thin metal films. The presented model is independent of the length scale and can be applied to films with different thicknesses as long as Ohm's law is valid. It is demonstrated that the linear crack density is an ambiguous parameter, which does not properly capture the development of a crack pattern. For the unambiguous characterization of the intensity of a crack pattern, a universal dimensionless factor is proposed. The presented results show that there is a wide range of possible crack patterns which do not lead to electrical failure of a conductive film that can be used for the failure-free design of flexible electronic devices.