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Application of nucleation theory to the rate dependence of incipient plasticity during nanoindentation

  • Christopher A. Schuh (a1) and Alan C. Lund (a1)


We propose a nucleation theory-based analysis for incipient plasticity during nanoindentation and predict the statistical distribution of rate-dependent pop-in events for many nominally identical indentations on the same surface. In the framework of stress-assisted, thermally activated defect nucleation, we quantitatively rationalize new nanoindentation measurements on 4H SiC and extract the activation volume of the nucleation events that mark the onset of plastic flow. We also illustrate how this statistical approach can differentiate between unique nucleation events for different indenter tip geometries.



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