An investigation of mechanics in nanomachining of Gallium Arsenide

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The first two decades of the 21st Century have seen a wide exploitation of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) in photoemitter device, microwave devices, hall element, solar cell, wireless communication as well as quantum computation device due to its superior material properties, such as higher temperature resistance, higher electronic mobility and energy gap that outperforms silicon. Ultra-precision multiplex two dimensional (2D) or three dimensional (3D) free-form nanostructures are often required on GaAs-based devices, such as radio frequency power amplifiers and switches used in the 5G smart mobile wireless communication. However, GaAs is extremely difficult to machine as its elastic modulus, Knoop hardness and fracture toughness are lower than other semiconductor materials such as silicon and germanium. This PhD thesis investigated the mechanics of nanomachining of GaAs through molecular dynamics (MD) simulation combined with single point diamond turning (SPDT) and atomic force microscope (AFM) based experimental characterization in order to realise ductile-regime nanomachining of GaAs, which is the most important motivation behind this thesis. The investigation of mechanics of nanomachining of GaAs included studies on cutting temperature, cutting forces, origin ductile plasticity, atomic scale friction, formation mechanism of sub-surface damage, wear mechanism of diamond cutting tool. Machinability of GaAs at elevated temperature was also studied in order to develop thermally-assisted nanomachining process in the future to facilitate plastic material deformation and removal. This thesis contributed to address the knowledge gaps such as what is the incipient plasticity, how does the sub-surface damage form and how does the diamond cutting tool wear during nanomachining of GaAs. Firstly, this thesis investigated the cutting zone temperature, cutting forces and origin of plasticity of GaAs material, including single crystal GaAs and polycrystalline GaAs during SPDT process. The experimental and MD simulation study showed GaAs has a strong anisotropic machinability. The simulation results indicated that the deformation of polycrystalline GaAs is accompanied by dislocation nucleation in the grain boundaries (GBs) leading to the initiation of plastic deformation. Furthermore, the 1/2 is the main type of dislocation responsible for ductile plasticity in polycrystalline GaAs. A phenomenon of fluctuation from wave crests to wave troughs in the cutting forces was only observed during cutting of polycrystalline GaAs, not for single-crystal GaAs. Secondly, this thesis studied the atomic scale friction during AFM-based nanomachining process. a strong size effect was observed when the scratch depths are below 2 nm in MD simulations and 15 nm from the AFM experiments respectively. A strong quantitative corroboration was obtained between the MD simulations and the AFM experiments in the specific scratch energy and more qualitative corroboration with the pile up and the kinetic coefficient of friction. This conclusion suggested that the specific scratch energy is insensitive to the tool geometry and the speed of scratch used in this investigation but the pile up and kinetic coefficient of friction are dependent on the geometry of the tool tip. Thirdly, this thesis investigated formation mechanism of sub-surface damage and wear mechanism of diamond cutting tool during nanomachining of GaAs. Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) measurement of sub-surface of machined nanogrooves on GaAs and MD simulation of dislocation movement indicated the dual slip mechanisms i.e. shuffle-set slip mechanism and glide-set slip mechanism, and the creation of dislocation loops, multi dislocation nodes, and dislocation junctions governed the formation mechanism of sub-surface damage of GaAs duri
Date of Award12 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorXichun Luo (Supervisor) & Yi Qin (Supervisor)

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