Results of Sneddon's analysis for the elastic contact between a rigid, axisymmetric punch and an elastic half space are used to show that a simple relationship exists among the contact stiffness, the contact area, and the elastic modulus that is not dependent on the geometry of the punch. The generality of the relationship has important implications for the measurement of mechanical properties using load and depth sensing indentation techniques and in the measurement of small contact areas such as those encountered in atomic force microscopy.
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