Fatigue Properties of Graphene Interconnects on Flexible Substrates
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This thesis represents the first determination of the fatigue behavior of Graphene as interconnect material electronic components on flexible substrates. The potential application of this interconnect material is for displays on flexible substrates where fatigue resistance is required due to the stress placed on the interconnect during mechanical bending. As the display is cyclically deformed (fatigued) during normal operation, cracks in the interconnect layer initiate and propagate leading to the lineout failure condition. The major contribution of this work is to show that Graphene is a superior interconnect material to the present state of the art Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) due to its electrical, optical and mechanical properties. The experimental approach in this thesis is based on Graphene samples which were fabricated on Silicon Nitrite (Si<sub>3</sub>N<sub>4</sub>)/Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN) substrates. For comparison, both patterned and uniform ITO films ITO films on Si<sub>3</sub>N<sub>4</sub>/PEN were fabricated. The results of the in-depth characterization of Graphene are reported and based on Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Raman Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) are reported. The fatigue characteristics of ITO were determined at stress amplitudes ranging from 2000 MPa to 400 MPa up to 5000 cycles. The fatigue characteristics of Graphene were determined at stress amplitudes ranging from 80 GPa to 40 GPa up to 5000 cycles. The fatigue S-N curves were determined and showed that Graphene's endurance limit is 40 GPa. Beyond the endurance limit, there is no observable high cycle or low cycle fatigue indication for Graphene on a flexible substrate such as PEN. The microstructural analysis by SEM and AFM did not reveal normal fatigue crack growth and propagation. This thesis presents the first comprehensive behavior of Graphene in a bending fatigue stress environment present in numerous flexible electronic applications. The design and stress environments for safe operation has been defined.