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Measurement of Thin Film Mechanical Properties Using Nanoindentation

  • G.M. Pharr and W.C. Oliver

Extract

One of the simplest ways to measure the mechanical properties of a thin film is to deform it on a very small scale. Because indentation testing with a sharp indenter is one convenient means to accomplish this, nanoindentation, or indentation testing at the nanometer scale, has become one of the most widely used techniques for measuring the mechanical properties of thin films. Other reasons for the popularity of nanoindentation stem from the ease with which a wide variety of mechanical properties can be measured without removing the film from its substrate and the ability to probe a surface at numerous points and spatially map its mechanical properties. The utility of the mapping capability is illustrated in Figure 1, which shows several small indentations made at selected points in a microelectronic device. The hardness and modulus of the device were determined at each point. In addition to microelectronics, nanoindentation has also proved useful in the study of optical coatings, hard coatings, and materials with surfaces modified by ion implantation and laser treatment.

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MRS Bulletin
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