Correcting for contact area changes in nanoindentation using surface acoustic waves

Christian E. Beck, Felix Hofmann, Jeffrey K. Eliason, Alexei A. Maznev, Keith A. Nelson, David E.J. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Nanoindentation is extensively used to quantify nano-scale mechanical behaviour. A widely-used assumption is that a well-defined, material-independent relationship exists between the indentation depth and indenter contact area. Here we demonstrate that this assumption is violated by ion-implanted tungsten, where pileup around the indenter tip leads to substantial changes in contact area. Using high accuracy surface acoustic wave measurements of elastic modulus, we are able to correct for this effect. Importantly we demonstrate that a priori knowledge of elastic properties can be readily used to compensate for pileup effects in nanoindentation without the need for any further measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-86
Number of pages4
JournalScripta Materialia
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to N. Peng for carrying out the ion implantation at Surrey National Ion Beam Centre, UK. DEJA acknowledges support from the Royal Academy of Engineering through a Research Fellowship. FH acknowledges funding from the John Fell fund ( 122/643 ) and the Royal Society ( RG130308 ). The SAW measurements at MIT were supported by NSF grant no. CHE-1111557 . This work was part-funded by the United Kingdom Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council via programme grant EP/H018921/1 . The data in this paper is available on Oxford Research Archive [30] .


  • Ion implantation
  • Irradiation
  • Nanoindentation
  • Pile-up
  • Surface acoustic waves

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