The material properties of low stress silicon nitride make it a possible replacement material for beryllium in X-ray windows. In this study, X-ray windows made of LPCVD deposited low stress silicon nitride are fabricated and characterized. The Young's modulus of the LPCVD low stress silicon nitride are characterized and found to be 226±23 GPa. The residual stress is characterized using two different methods and is found to be 127±25 MPa and 141±0.28 MPa. Two support structure geometries for the low stress silicon nitride X-ray windows are used. X-ray windows with thicknesses of 100 nm and 200 nm are suspended on a silicon rib support structure. A freestanding circular geometry is used for a 600 nm thick X-ray window. The 100 nm and 200 nm thick low stress silicon nitride X-ray windows with a silicon support structure are burst tested, cycling tested and leak rate tested. The average burst pressure for the 100 and 200 nm films on a silicon support structure are 1.4 atm and 2.2 atm respectively. Both 100 nm and 200 nm windows are able to withstand a difference in pressure of 1 atm for over 100 cycles with a leak rate of less than 10-10 mbar-L/s.The low stress silicon nitride with 100 nm and 200 nm thicknesses, the 600 nm freestanding low stress silicon nitride windows and freestanding 8 micron thick beryllium windows are mechanical shock resistance tested. The support structure low stress silicon nitride and beryllium windows are tested with an applied vacuum. The freestanding 600 nm thick low stress silicon nitride windows burst at 0.4 atm and are therefore mechanical shock wave tested without an applied vacuum. The support structure low stress silicon nitride windows fractured when subjected to an acceleration of roughly 5,000 g. The 8 micron thick beryllium windows are subjected to accelerations of over 30,000 g without fracturing. A quasistatic model is used to show that for low stress silicon nitride with a freestanding circular geometry, an acceleration of 106 g is required to have the same order of magnitude of stress caused by a pressure differential of 1 atm. Low stress silicon nitride can act as a replacement for beryllium in X-ray windows, but the support geometry, residual stress, and strength of the material need to be optimized.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Brough, David B., "Investigation of Low-Stress Silicon Nitride as a Replacement Material for Beryllium X-Ray Windows" (2012). All Theses and Dissertations. 3402.
low stress silicon nitride, X-ray windows, beryllium, shock test, thin film characterization