Measuring the elastic modulus and residual stress of freestanding thin films using nanoindentation techniques Academic Article uri icon


  • A new method is proposed to determine the elastic modulus and residual stress of freestanding thin films based on nanoindentation techniques. The experimentally measured stiffness-displacement response is applied to a simple membrane model that assumes the film deformation is dominated by stretching as opposed to bending. Dimensional analysis is used to identify appropriate limitations of the proposed model. Experimental verification of the method is demonstrated for Al/0.5 wt% Cu films nominally 22 m wide, 0.55 m thick, and 150, 300, and 500 m long. The estimated modulus for the four freestanding films match the value measured by electrostatic techniques to within 2%, and the residual stress to within 19.1%. The difference in residual stress can be completely accounted for by thermal expansion and a modest change in temperature of 3 C. Numerous experimental pitfalls are identified and discussed. Collectively, these data and the technique used to generate them should help future investigators make more accurate and precise measurements of the mechanical properties of freestanding thin films using nanoindentation.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Materials Research

author list (cited authors)

  • Herbert, E. G., Oliver, W. C., de Boer, M. P., & Pharr, G. M.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Herbert, Erik G||Oliver, Warren C||de Boer, Maarten P||Pharr, George M

publication date

  • September 2009