Small scale, grain size and substrate effects in nano-indentation experiment of film-substrate systems

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The mechanical properties of film-substrate systems have been investigated through nano-indentation experiments in our former paper (Chen, S.H., Liu, L., Wang, T.C., 2005. Investigation of the mechanical properties of thin films by nano-indentation, considering the effects of thickness and different coating-substrate combinations. Surf. Coat. Technol., 191, 25-32), in which Al-Glass with three different film thicknesses are adopted and it is found that the relation between the hardness H and normalized indentation depth h/t, where t denotes the film thickness, exhibits three different regimes: (i) the hardness decreases obviously with increasing indentation depth; (ii) then, the hardness keeps an almost constant value in the range of 0.1-0.7 of the normalized indentation depth h/t; (iii) after that, the hardness increases with increasing indentation depth. In this paper, the indentation image is further investigated and finite element method is used to analyze the nano-indentation phenomena with both classical plasticity and strain gradient plasticity theories. Not only the case with an ideal sharp indenter tip but also that with a round one is considered in both theories. Finally, we find that the classical plasticity theory can not predict the experimental results, even considering the indenter tip curvature. However, the strain gradient plasticity theory can describe the experimental data very well not only at a shallow indentation depth but also at a deep depth. Strain gradient and substrate effects are proved to coexist in film-substrate nano-indentation experiments. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Chen, S. H., Liu, L., & Wang, T. C. (2007). Small scale, grain size and substrate effects in nano-indentation experiment of film-substrate systems. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 44(13), 4492–4504.

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