To determine the mechanical properties of materials, using spherical ultra-microindentation techniques, the geometry of the part of the indenter in contact with the surface must be well known. However, crystallographic anisotropy ensures that nominally spherical diamond indenters with very small tip radii will not be truly spherical. This paper examines the shape of typical indenters, with nominal tip radii of 5 μm and 10 μm. Atomic force microscopy techniques are used to determine the general form and then using a technique based on Hertzian contact mechanics in combination with load/penetration data obtained by indentation, to determine the effective radius of the part of the indenter in actual contact with the surface.
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