On the measurement of creep by nanoindentation with continuous stiffness techniques
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Measurement of material creep parameters by means of nanoindentation using continuous stiffness techniques avoids the problems associated with thermal drift that often plague creep measurements based on the time dependence of the indentation depth alone [1,2]. Problems with thermal drift are negligible from a practical point of view during continuous stiffness measurements because the contact stiffness can be measured over a short time period, typically less than one second, during which time the displacements due to thermal drift are minimal. Determination of the time dependence of the indentation depth from the stiffness data relies on the well-known relation between contact stiffness and the square root of the contact area. For pyramidal indenters, the true indentation contact depth must be proportional to the contact stiffness, leading to the assumption that indentation depth is also proportional to the contact stiffness. In this study, we critically examine this assumption using data obtained from experiments on a relatively soft material, epoxy, and a relatively hard material, fused quartz. The results show that just after initial load application, the change in contact area may be different than that expected from the change in indentation depth. One possible explanation for the observed behavior is examined by finite element modeling. 2005 Materials Research Society.