A set of propagating cracks in a SiN barrier film on poly ethylene naphthalate (PEN) were subjected to differing levels of relative humidity. It was observed that the propagation speed of the cracks increased for increasing levels of relative humidity. This was shown using two independent, simultaneous techniques. One of the techniques (a resistance measurement) gives a qualitative measure of the averaged crack tip speed and the other (a microscopic technique) a quantitative measure. An attempt is made to quantify the resistance measurements in terms of crack tip speed. The effects that humidity may have on the crack driving force through differences in hygroscopic expansion are discussed, using independent determination of the diffusion constant of water into PEN. It is concluded that hygroscopic expansion alone cannot account for the observations.
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