In the past two decades depth-sensing indentation has becomea widely used technique to measure the mechanical properties ofmaterials. This technique is particularly suitable for thecharacterisation of materials at sub-micro or nano scale thoughthere is a tendency to extend its application to the micro ormacro scale. The load-penetration depth curve of depth-sensingindentation is a characteristic of a material and can be usedfor analysing various mechanical properties in addition tohardness. This thesis deals with the mechanicalcharacterisation of bulk materials, thin films and coatings,gradient materials, and composites using depth-sensingindentation. Finite element method has been resorted to as atool to understand the indentation behaviour of materials.
The piling-up or sinking-in behaviour of materials plays animportant role in the accurate determination of materialsproperties using depth-sensing indentation. Finite elementsimulations show that the piling-up or sinking-in behaviour isdetermined by the material parameters, namelyE/σyratio and strain hardening exponent orexperimental parameterhe/hmaxratio, and the contact friction. Anempirical model has been proposed to relate the contact area ofindentation to theE/σyratio and thehe/hmaxratio and used to predict thepiling-up orsinking-in of materials. The existence of friction is found toenhance the sinking-in tendency of materials. A generalrelationship between the hardness and the indentationrepresentative stress valid for both soft and hard materialshas been obtained. A possible method to estimate the plasticproperties of bulk materials has been suggested.
Measuring the coating-only properties requires theindentation to be done within a critical penetration depthbeyond which substrate effect comes in. The ratio of thecritical penetration depth to the coating thickness determinedby nanoindentation is independent of coating thickness andabout 0.2 for gold / nickel, 0.4 for aluminium / BK7 glass, and0.2 for diamond-like-carbon / M2 steel and alumina / nickel.Finite element simulations show that this ratio is dependent onthe combination of the coating and the substrate and moresensitive to differences in the elastic properties than in theplastic properties of the coating/substrate system. Thedeformation behaviour of coatings, such as, piling-up of thesoft coatings and cracking of the hard coatings, has also beeninvestigated using atomic force microscope.
The constraint factors, 2.24 for WC phase and 2.7 for WC-Cocemented carbides, are determined through nanoindentation andfinite element simulations. A modified hardness model of WC-Cocemented carbides has been proposed, which gives a betterestimation than the Lee and Gurland hardness model. Finiteelement method has also been used to investigate theindentation behaviour of WC-Co gradient coatings.
Keywords:depth-sensing indentation, nanoindentation,finite element method, atomic force microscope, mechanicalproperties, hardness, deformation, dislocations, cracks,piling-up, sinking-in, indentation size effect, thin coatings,composite, gradient materials, WC-Co, diamond-like-carbon,alumina, gold, aluminium, nickel, BK7 glass, M2 steel.
Stockholm: Materialvetenskap , 2004. , xii, 50 p.
dept-sensing indentation, nanoindentation, finite element method, atomic force microscope