This paper describes the results of an analysis of the errors that can arise during nanoindentation, and their effect on the final results. The sources of errors that have been considered are calibration errors in load, displacement, instrument frame compliance and indenter shape assuming a Berkovich indenter with an error in the included angle, and operational errors such as thermal drift and specimen tilt. An assessment of calibration errors indicates that a simple summation of errors was not appropriate in this case, since compliance and area function are depended upon displacement. Thus the error analysis has been carried out using a cumulative approach. As expected it was found that the errors increased with decreasing load and displacement, and increasing hardness and Young’s modulus. However, minimum errors were observed at about 20 mN and were a function of the indented material
No appreciable error was found in the hardness or Young’s modulus calculated from load-displacement data at surface angles below 8°; above this value the indenter started moving sideways over the surface, resulting in significant errors.