Skip to main content Accessibility help

Young's modulus measurements on ultra-thin coatings

  • T. Chudoba (a1), M. Griepentrog (a2), A. Dück (a2), D. Schneider (a3) and F. Richter (a4)...


The determination of the mechanical properties of ultra-thin coatings has become more and more important because of the increasing number of applications using such films. However, an accurate mechanical testing of coatings with a thickness down to some nanometers is still a challenge, despite the improvements of existing measurement techniques. Nanoindentation is an often used mechanical nanoprobe. Using the conventional test method with a sharp Berkovich indenter, the problem of the influence of the substrate on the results arises with decreasing film thickness. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to measure the modulus of films with a thickness less than 100–200 nm. The problem can be overcome by using spherical indenters in combination with an analytical solution for the Hertzian contact of coated systems. It allows a separation of film and substrate properties from the load–displacement curve of the compound. Indentation measurements were done at a 44 nm TiN film and at diamondlike carbon coatings in the thickness range between 4.3 nm and 125 nm on Si substrates. Several corrections were applied to obtain wholly elastic force–displacement curves with high accuracy. It is shown in more detail how zero point and thermal drift corrections are used to obtain statistical depth errors below 0.2 nm. Laser-acoustic measurements based on ultrasonic surface waves were chosen as a second method, which also measures the Young’s modulus in this thickness range. Although the indentation technique is a local probe and the laser-acoustic technique gives an integrated value for a surface range of some millimeters, the results agree well for the investigated samples. In contrast, it was impossible to get the correct Young’s modulus results by conventional indentation measurements with Berkovich indenter, even for ultra-low loads.



Hide All
1.Schneider, D., Schwarz, T. and Schultrich, B., Thin Solid Films 219 82 (1992).
2.Schneider, D. andTh., Schwarz, Surf. Coat. Technol. 91 136 (1997).
3.King, R.B., Int. J. Solids Struct. 23 1657 (1987).
4.Bhattacharya, A.K. and Nix, W.D., Int. J. Solids Struct. 24 1287 (1988).
5.Gao, H., Chiu, C-H. and Lee, J., Int. J. Solids Struct. 29 2471 (1992).
6.Menčik, J., Munz, D., Quandt, E. and Weppelmann, E.R., J. Mater. Res. 12 2475 (1997).
7.Chudoba, T., Schwarzer, N., Richter, F. and Beck, U., Thin Solid Films 377–378 366 (2000).
8.Oliver, W.C. and Pharr, G.M., J. Mater. Res. 7 1564 (1992).
9. ISO 14577, Metallic Materials–Instrumented Indentation Test for Hardness and Materials Parameters (International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2002).
10.Hill, R., Proc. Phys. Soc. A 65 349 (1952).
11.Schülke, Th.Anders, A. and Siemroth, P.IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science 25, 660 (1997).
12.Schneider, D., Witke, Th.Schwarz, Th.Schöneich, B. and Schultrich, B., Surf. Coat. Technol. 126 136 (2000).
13. European Project: Determination of Hardness and Modulus of Thin Films and Coatings by Nanoindentation (INDICOAT), Contract No. SMT4-CT98-2249, NPL Report MATC(A) 24, May 2001.
14.Chudoba, T. and Herrmann, K., Härtereitechnische Mitteilungen, HTM 56 258 (2001).
15.Chudoba, T., Schwarzer, N. and Richter, F., Surf. Coat. Technol. 127 9 (2000).
16.Farnell, G.W. and Adler, E.L. in Physical Acoustics, edited by Mason, W.P. and Thurston, R.N. (Academic Press, New York, 1972), Vol. IX, p. 35.
17.Coufal, H., Grygier, R., Hess, P. and Neubrand, A., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 92 2980 (1992).
18.Schneider, D., Siemroth, P., Schülke, T., Berthold, J., Schultrich, B., Schneider, H.H., Ohr, R., Petereit, B. and Hilgers, H., Surf. Coat. Technol. 153 252 (2002).
19.Schwarzer, N., Richter, F. and Hecht, G., Surf. Coat. Technol. 114 292 (1999).
20.Schwarzer, N., J. Tribol. 122 672 (2000).
21.Fabrikant, V.I.Application of Potential Theory in Mechanics: A Selection of New Results (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1989).
22.Fabrikant, V.I.Mixed Boundary Value Problems of Potential Theory and Their Applications in Engineering (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1991).
23.Chudoba, T. and Schwarzer, N. ELASTICA software demonstration package, available at
24.Chudoba, T., Schwarzer, N. and Richter, F., Surf. Coat. Technol. 154 140 (2002).
25.Herrmann, K., Jennett, N.M., Saunders, S.R.J., Meneve, J. and Pohlenz, F., Z. Metallkd. 93 9 (2002).
26.Schneider, D., Schwarz, T., Scheibe, H.J. and Panzner, M., Thin Solid Films 295 107 (1997).
27.Jiang, X., Wang, M. and Schmidt, K., J. Appl. Phys. 69 3053 (1991).


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Young's modulus measurements on ultra-thin coatings

  • T. Chudoba (a1), M. Griepentrog (a2), A. Dück (a2), D. Schneider (a3) and F. Richter (a4)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.