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ES 240 Project: Finite-element modeling of nano-indentation of thin-film materials

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Measuring mechanical properties of materials on a very small scale is a difficult, but increasingly important task. There are only a few existing technologies for conducting quantitative measurements of mechanical properties of nanostructures, and nano-indentation is the leading candidate. In this project, we simulate the nano-indentation tests of thin film materials using finite element software ABAQUS. The materials properties and test parameters will be taken from references on nano-indentation experiments [1, 2]. Therefore, the model can be validated by comparing its predictions with experiment results. In addition, we will change 1) the thickness of the thin film and 2) the material of the substrate (for the thin film) in the model, in order to study substrate's effects on nano-indentation tests.

[1] X. Huang et al, Journal of Composite Materials, v40, p1393 (2006)

[2] J. Knapp et al, Journal of Applied Physics, v85, p1460 (1999)

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The paper you cited is of great help.  Maybe you can compare your simulation result with experiment results.
Title: Nanoindentation measurements of the mechanical properties of polycrystalline Au and Ag thin films on silicon substrates: Effects of grain size and film thicknessAuthor(s): Cao YF (Cao, Yifang), Allameh S (Allameh, Seyed), Nankivil D (Nankivil, Derek),Sethiaraj S (Sethiaraj, Steve), Otiti T (Otiti, Tom), Soboyejo W (Soboyejo, Wole)Source: MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING A-STRUCTURAL MATERIALS PROPERTIES MICROSTRUCTURE AND PROCESSING 427 (1-2): 232-240 JUL 15 2006
The above is the most recent paper; you can of course use others' paper according to the parameters you use in ABAQUS.

Adrian Podpirka's picture

The project sounds really great and the papers were very insightful.  I found a paper  on studying the fatigue of nanoscale structures using nanoindentation which might be an interesting direction to take.
Also, last year I took a class on MEMS and a great textbook on the subject is written by Professor Senturia at MIT.  I have a copy if you are interested. 
Here is a link to the book for everyone else who would like to check it out.

Hi, My Msc project is associated with modeling nanoindentation with abaqus. Normally, between Substrate and thin film are assumed as perfect bonding together. I just wonder how I can bond two different surfaces together perfectly in Abaqus. Can I actually use “Tie- constrain”?  or make an one part(Substrate and film together) and define two material properties? if i should make part as one , How can i defien two different material properties in ONE part?? Hope you can understand my question

Thank you very much


fanny's picture

hey, I have made many analysis with Ansys, but I first hear that  Nanoindentation process can be simulated using finite element method, wolud you please give me some details on this aspect?

Thank you very much.

kashoo's picture

model ur material as axisymmetric material and indenter as rigid element.  




Hi All,

 I am a beginer in abawus and I am looking for a good tutorial on modeling and simulation of nanoindentation of thin films in abaqus. I appreciate if you guide me.



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