Brittle Behaviour in Aspirin Crystals: Evidence of Spalling Fracture
Single crystals of aspirin form I were cleaved and indented on their dominant face. Upon inspection, it was possible to observe strongly anisotropic shallow lateral cracks due to the extreme low surface roughness after cleavage. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) imaging showed spalling fractures nucleating from the indent corners, forming terraces with a height of one or two interplanar spacings d100. The formation of such spalling fractures in aspirin was rationalised using basic calculations of attachment energies, showing how (100) layers are poorly bonded when compared to their relatively higher intralayer bonding. An attempt at explaining the preferential propagation of these fractures along the  direction is discussed.