Indentation in single-crystal 6H silicon carbide: Experimental investigations and finite element analysis

Silicon carbide (SiC) is a promising material ideally suited for small-scaled devices deployed in harsh environments. SiC is brittle in bulk form, however, at small component length-scales plasticity is observed. A good understanding of deformation behaviour is, therefore, crucial for reliable small-scale component design and fabrication. Here, experimental and numerical analysis of the deformation behaviour of single-crystal 6H-SiC in nanoindentation is presented. Nanoindentation studies are carried out in two orientations of the single-crystal using a Berkovich indenter. Next, a crystal-plasticity theory was implemented in finiteelement (FE) modelling framework to predict the deformation of the hexagonal single-crystal. The validity of the present FE modelling methodology was corroborated through comparison between FE simulations and experimental data in terms of indent profile and loaddisplacement curves. Our results showed that classical crystal plasticity theory can be reliably applied in predicting plastic deformation of ceramic at small scales.