More than Meets the Eye
The film looks smooth and specular, but a microscope exposes cracks buried deep beneath the surface. In science, a topic may seem straightforward, but as we delve deeper a new perspective emerges. Like these occluded cracks, complex ideas and theories reveal themselves and reshape our understanding. "This optical microscope image (Nikon Eclipse L200, Nomarski contrast) exposes a system of buried microcracks in an AlN film grown on SiC by MOCVD. Large-scale properties can offer insight into a material's underlying structure: here, cracks follow high-symmetry directions in the crystalline film, revealing the hexagonal symmetry of the atomic lattice."