Nanoindentation tests were performed on ultraprecision diamond-turned silicon wafers and the results were compared with those of pristine silicon wafers. Remarkable differences were found between the two kinds of test results in terms of load-displacement characteristics and indent topologies. The machining-induced amorphous layer was found to have significantly higher microplasticity and lower hardness than pristine silicon. When machining silicon in the ductile mode, we are in essence always machining amorphous silicon left behind by the preceding tool pass; thus, it is the amorphous phase that dominates the machining performance. This work indicated the feasibility of detecting the presence and the mechanical properties of the machining-induced amorphous layers by nanoindentation.
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