The response of single crystalline silicon carbide (SiC) to a Berkovich nanoindenter was investigated by examining the indents using a transmission electron microscope and the selected area electron diffraction technique. It was found that the depth of indentation-induced subsurface damage was far larger than the indentation depth, and the damaging mechanism of SiC was distinctly different from that of single crystalline silicon. For silicon, a broad amorphous region is formed underneath the indenter after unloading; for SiC, however, no amorphous phase was detected. Instead, a polycrystalline structure with a grain size of ten nanometer level was identified directly under the indenter tip. Micro cracks, basal plane dislocations and possible cross slips were also found around the indent. These finding provide useful information for ultraprecision manufacturing of SiC wafers.
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