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Using multidimensional contact mechanics experiments to measure Poisson's ratio

  • B.N. Lucas (a1), J.C. Hay (a1) and W.C. Oliver (a2)


Using a new multidimensional contact mechanics system, the normal and tangential elastic contact stiffnesses of six bulk materials with Poisson’s ratios ranging from 0.17 to 0.42 were measured. It is shown that the experimentally measured tangential to normal stiffness ratio can be described as a function of the bulk Poisson’s ratio of the material as predicted by Mindlin. The technique shows a high sensitivity to variations in Poisson’s ratio, suggesting that the technique is a viable means for measuring the Poisson’s ratio of new novel materials. The technique was subsequently applied to two metal film–glass substrate systems. Experimental observations indicate that even when Poisson’s ratio mismatch between the film and the substrate is large, the technique yields appropriate bulk values for the Poisson’s ratio of the film. The experimental details and apparatus are introduced and described.



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