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Measurement of hardness and elastic modulus by instrumented indentation: Advances in understanding and refinements to methodology

  • W.C. Oliver (a1) and G.M. Pharr (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2011

The method we introduced in 1992 for measuring hardness and elastic modulus by instrumented indentation techniques has widely been adopted and used in the characterization of small-scale mechanical behavior. Since its original development, the method has undergone numerous refinements and changes brought about by improvements to testing equipment and techniques as well as from advances in our understanding of the mechanics of elastic–plastic contact. Here, we review our current understanding of the mechanics governing elastic–plastic indentation as they pertain to load and depth-sensing indentation testing of monolithic materials and provide an update of how we now implement the method to make the most accurate mechanical property measurements. The limitations of the method are also discussed.

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a)This author was an editor of this focus issue during the review and decision stage. For the JMR policy on review and publication of manuscripts authored by editors, please refer to
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