Finite element studies of the influence of pile-up on the analysis of nanoindentation data Conference Paper uri icon


  • Methods currently used for analyzing nanoindentation load-displacement data give good predictions of the contact area in the case of hard materials, but can underestimate the contact area by as much as 40% for soft materials which do not work harden. This under-estimation results from the pile-up which forms around the hardness impression and leads to potentially significant errors in the measurement of hardness and elastic modulus. Finite element simulations of conical indentation for a wide range of elastic-plastic materials are presented which define the conditions under which pile-up is significant and determine the magnitude of the errors in hardness and modulus which may occur if pile-up is ignored. It is shown that the materials in which pile-up is not an important factor can be experimentally identified from the ratio of the final depth after unloading to the depth of the indentation at peak load, a parameter which also correlates with the hardness-to-modulus ratio.

published proceedings

  • Materials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings

author list (cited authors)

  • Bolshakov, A., Oliver, W. C., & Pharr, G. M.

complete list of authors

  • Bolshakov, A||Oliver, WC||Pharr, GM

publication date

  • December 1996