Deformation behaviour of soft-brittle polycrystalline materials determined by nanoscratching with a sharp indenter

Weihai Huang, Jiwang Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Polycrystalline zinc selenide (p-ZnSe) is a typical soft brittle material with important optical applications. In this work, single and repeated nanoscratching tests were performed using a Berkovich indenter along the face-forward (FF) and edge-forward (EF) directions. The morphological features of the scratched grooves and the subsurface microstructural changes in the material were characterised by scanning electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). Material removal in the ductile mode was obtained in the EF scratching direction; this was accompanied by the slip lines, and the radial cracks generated along grain boundaries. In contrast, brittle fractures occurred in the FF scratching direction, resulting in radial and lateral cracks which are responsible for generating the peeling of the material. The EBSD results demonstrated that the {111} planes are the primary slip plane and secondary cleavage plane, whereas the {110} planes are the primary cleavage plane and secondary slip planes. Tensile residual stress was detected in the subsurface region of the grooves scratched along the FF direction, whereas compressive residual stress was detected in the EF scratching direction. Fishbone-like patterns were observed in the scratched grooves under all conditions, while no phase transformation was detected. This study provides insights into the fundamental material removal mechanisms of soft brittle crystals in various abrasive machining processes, such as grinding, lapping, and polishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-729
Number of pages13
JournalPrecision Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov


  • Deformation behaviour
  • Nanoscratching
  • Polycrystalline material
  • Sharp indenter
  • Soft brittle material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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