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A new paradigm in thin film indentation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Barton C. Prorok
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849
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A new method to accurately and reliably extract the actual Young's modulus of a thin film on a substrate by indentation was developed. The method involved modifying the discontinuous elastic interface transfer model to account for substrate effects that were found to influence behavior a few nanometers into a film several hundred nanometers thick. The method was shown to work exceptionally well for all 25 different combinations of five films on five substrates that encompassed a wide range of compliant films on stiff substrates to stiff films on compliant substrates. A predictive formula was determined that enables the film modulus to be calculated as long as one knows the film thickness, substrate modulus, and bulk Poisson's ratio of the film and the substrate. The calculated values of the film modulus were verified with prior results that used the membrane deflection experiment and resonance-based methods. The greatest advantages of the method are that the standard Oliver and Pharr analysis can be used, and that it does not require the continuous stiffness method, enabling any indenter to be used. The film modulus then can be accurately determined by simply averaging a handful of indents on a film/substrate composite.

Copyright © Materials Research Society 2010

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