Nanoindentation-based fracture toughness measurements of ceramic materials like silicon carbide (SiC) with pyramidal indenters are of significant interest in materials research. A majority of currently used fracture toughness models have been developed for Vickers indenters and are limited to specific crack geometries. The validity of the indentation-cracking method for the fracture toughness measurement of single crystal SiC, the elastic-plastic anisotropy and orientation dependence around the c-axis when indented in the <0001> direction is examined using nanoindentation with different pyramidal indenters. The residual impressions are analyzed using scanning electron microscopy to measure the crack lengths and the validity of existing fracture toughness measurement methods and equations is analyzed. A combination of nanoindentation with different pyramidal indenters to produce a wide range of effective strains and finite element simulation is used to extract flow properties of single crystal SiC in the <0001> direction. It is observed that there is no orientation dependence around the c-axis when SiC-6H is indented in the <0001> direction with a Berkovich indenter, i.e., it is transversely isotropic. It is also found that for a Berkovich indenter, the Jang and Pharr model, which is based on the Lawn model for cone/halfpenny cracks, gives approximately constant values at low loads (<1 N), while at higher loads (>1 N), the Laugier model gives constant fracture toughness values. Finite element analysis using equivalent cones is used along with measured hardness values to estimate the yield strength, the work hardening exponents and the stress–strain curve for single crystal SiC-6H in the <0001> direction.
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