Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Alex Volinsky, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wenjun Cai, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.


Brittle Coatings on Ductile Substrate, Interficial Toughness, Ion Beam Mixing, Irradiated Materials, Nanoindentation


Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) have gained increasing popularity due to their high potential, low self-discharge, zero priming and minimal memory effect. However, the emergence of electrical vehicles and hybrid electrical vehicles in the automobile industry, where LIBs are predominantly in use, instilled a need to improve LIB batteries by experimenting with new materials. Graphite, the commonly used anode material for LIBs suffers from low theoretical capacity (372 mA h g-1) and torpid rate performance. Germanium (Ge) seems to be a promising substitute of carbon due to its high theoretical capacity, high Li+ diffusivity and electrical conductivity. However, Ge undergoes large volumetric change (±370%). This causes deboning of the thin film Ge electrode from the substrate current collector, causing a rapid decrease in the electrolytic performance. The process of ion beam mixing claims to have overcome this problem. In our current study, the adhesion strength of Ge thin film over Nickel (Ni) substrate (with and without ion beam mixing) is being measured using nanoindentation and the superlayer indentation test. Nanoindentation is one of the popular techniques to measure the mechanical properties and adhesion of thin film coatings. In this technique, a very small indenter of a desired geometry indents the film/substrate pair and the work of adhesion is calculated by knowing the plastic depth of indentation and the radius of indentation. Superlayer indentation is analogous to normal indentation but with a highly stressed superlayer on top to restrict the out-of-plane displacements, it reduces the plastic pile up around the indenter tip. The results from our study strongly suggest the possibility of dramatically increasing the adhesion strength by ion bombardment, which can be achieved by atomic level intermixing of the film/substrate pair. These, in turn, suggest that Ge could be an effective successor to graphite in the near future.