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A method for making substrate-independent hardness measurements of soft metallic films on hard substrates by nanoindentation

  • Ting Y. Tsui (a1), C. A. Ross (a2) and G. M. Pharr (a3)


A new method for making substrate-independent hardness measurements by nanoindentation techniques that applies to soft metallic films on very hard substrates is presented. The primary issue to be addressed is substrate-induced enhancement of indentation pileup and the ways it influences the indentation contact area. On the basis of experimental observations of soft aluminum films deposited on silicon, glass, and sapphire substrates, an empirical relationship was derived that relates the amount of pileup to the contact depth. From this relationship and the associated experimental observations, a method was developed that allows the intrinsic hardness of the film to be estimated, even when the indenter penetrates through the film into the substrate. The method should prove useful for very thin films (<100 nm) in which it is not possible to make measurements at penetration depths small enough to avoid subtrate effects.



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